Sex Education sucks, and not in a good way

Soon enough I’m going to be a teacher. I’ll have finished my PGCE, worked hard to learn more about educational disadvantage and stepped foot into the classroom for the first time. And it’s likely that at some point, I’m going to teach Sex Education. Perhaps even to your children.

And you know what I want? Better sex ed. I want to teach your kids about gay sex, issues of consent, oral and STD’s. I want to teach your kids about the dangers of unprotected sex. I want to teach them about the joys of promiscuity. I want to teach them that swinging is alright. And why? Because sex education is redundant as it stands. It doesn’t equip kids with the necessary skills to protect themselves and have a good time. It encourages a biological view of sex which completely removes the idea of violating someone’s boundaries.

For me, there are three main issues with sex ed:

  1. It’s for straight people
  2. It ignores people’s emotions
  3. It’s moralistic

Let me take these apart one by one. Firstly, sex education is for straight people. And only straight people that enjoy penetrative, vaginal sex. It doesn’t teach about the specific dangers and joys of anal or oral sex. It assumes that people will ignore those aspects of their erotic lives in favour of one, specific form of sexual play. And why is this bad? Because the vagina, the anus, the mouth and the hand are all different. And due to that, perhaps we might just need an education system which teaches kids to be healthy, however they choose to explore themselves. And trust me, they will explore; perhaps even non-sexually, as some people may enjoy. Sex ed needs to be recast as relationship education, whereby asexual and other minority identities are allowed to exist without feelings of guilt, pressure or shame.

This leads me nicely on to my second point: our sex education is overtly biological. It teaches kids that the sperm fertilises the egg and badda-bing badda-boom, a baby appears. It ignores the idea that, actually, consent is a big deal in both sexual and non-sexual relationships. It props up a system whereby men believe they are entitled to sex, because it’s natural for them to be the active, dominant partner. Even worse, this form of overtly biological education ignores the specifics of STIs and STDs. It imagines chlamydia as the only threat to teenager’s sex lives. It fails to account for the fact that, yes some STDs are treatable, whereas others can cause a lot more damage. We need to see sex as an emotional, not simply physical, process. And we need to begin to teach our kids this too.

Finally, sex education is moralistic. It teaches kids that sex is a bad thing. They should save themselves and only have sex when in love. Obviously when they are in second year of University they can shirk these rules, shag whoever they like and have a great time – they’ll just have to educate themselves on the matter. As it props up a male dominated model of the erotic, British sex education equally helps to reinforce the idea that specific kinds of sex are bad, that women are meant to be less sexual than men and that you should judge those who don’t fit in with the norm. Gender equally doesn’t exist, men and women are binary creatures who can only identify based on heteronormative codes (read: bullshit.)

So yes, we need new sex education. And all these dramatic, scary sounding topics? You probably encounter them daily, maybe even in your own bed. We need to expand our idea of sex in the classroom, and help our kids have fun in a safe, trusting environment. We suck, but hopefully one day our kids will suck too – just safely, without pressure or guilt and with whoever they want.

 

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