When I was in the eighth grade, one of the classes I took was a sexual education class. In this course, the most significant lesson that I learned is that a condom is capable of holding two liters of soda. The majority of the class comprised of animated movies and a severe lack of actual information regarding sex. I’m not complaining about having to scrounge the depths on the internet (in which I stumbled upon some things that I will never get out of my head) for some information about sex, all the organs involved in it, how they work, and all the chemicals that run through my body that make me who I am. I just wish I’d been able to get this information in school.
If I could create my own sex ed class, there would be talk about rape, sexual harassment, and statistics. In this course, we’d talk about stats a whole lot, such as how only 30% of rapes are reported, how the CDC reports that approximately one in six males and one in four females are sexually abused before the age of 18.
We’d talk about sexuality without politics or religion. Or we’d try to; I say “try” because I’m not sure if you can talk about one without the others. I think that it’s helpful to know about how others view sexuality and sexual orientation, even if they’re not your own. I want this class to be a safe space. I want the students to feel like the teacher is someone they can have a conversation with, and is not just someone behind a desk showing PowerPoint after PowerPoint. And when there is a presentation, I want it to be loaded with information. Speakers, sexual health advocates, and gynecologists would come and talk to the class about their field of work and how we can be advocates for our own health. How cool would it be to do a video chat with Laci Green or some other young person advocating for sexual health?
A sexual health class shouldn’t only talk about sex and the stigma surrounding it. I think it should also talk about emotional health and how to keep your brain healthy along with your body. School is stressful, and teenagers should be armed with the tools to deal with that stress in a healthy way. Those two kinds of health go hand-in-hand. We’d talk about anatomy; I want to know what everything is called and how each of the parts work together. Shouldn’t the ideal sexual education class answer all these question?
The required reading for this class would help to ease into the above subjects. Books like Asking For It by Kate Harding would be the introduction novel for the sexual harassment part of the course, Fire Season by Hollye Dexter and Skin Game by Caroline Kettlewell would be a part of the mental health unit. Finally, we would round the year off with Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski. This book talks about the how and the why of experiences like arousal- she goes into the science of it. She also talks about female anatomy in her novel. This would be valuable to the course because she is a credible source on sexual health and the science behind it all. Literature is valuable when trying to learn what makes you who you are, and this sex ed class would encourage outside research.
When it comes to my sexual health, and, really, health in general, I want information so I can make an informed decision. I want to know the impacts the decision I make will have, and the consequences I may stumble across. A sex ed class should not tell people what to do regarding how they want to conduct their sex lives, sexuality, or sexual orientation, but give them options to embrace themselves and take control of their bodies.
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