A conversation which has always led to laughs and cringes is discussing with people the Sex Talk they either had at school or with their parents. You flash back to yourself in your early teens, remembering how naïve and misinformed you were. Seeing a teacher, school nurse, or parent approach – looking equally as uncomfortable as you – the topic of sex being approached probably more awkward than the conversation itself.
My experience was perhaps a little more unique. I went to Catholic school, where it was wrong to promote any form of contraception other than Christian family planning. This technique involves tracking your ovulation and fertility rates, and only having sex when you are at your least fertile in the month – sounds so sexy and spontaneous doesn’t it! We were shown a picture of a couple, coming off that couple were lots of other people, the message being that whoever you choose to be intimate with you are also getting with everyone that they’ve ever gotten with, because that’s definitely how it works and that isn’t at all a confusing message for hormonal emotional teens.
They intensified the importance of the message with a follow up power point presentation of graphic photos of STI’s. Now this may sound awful and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t a patch on my sister’s Catholic School experience were she was shown a video disgustingly named ‘The Silent Scream’ which showed an actual abortion, apparently this is illegal to show teens, understandably, but they did anyway, to teach them an unforgettable lesson.
All of this is, of course, ironic, as my school had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the area. For a long time I genuinely thought that this was sex education and my hopes of it improving were slim, but it’s so reassuring to hear that progress is being made.
My mum is the assistant head of a secondary school, it was here that I realised that Sex Ed isn’t all terrible. Not only did they teach the kids about contraception (wow!) but they also covered a lot of the other important stuff such as; your first time, other sexualities other than heterosexuality, being transgender, sex trafficking, female genital mutilation and more. I was blown away at how much they endeavoured to educate these kids on. I learnt a lot about that sort of stuff because I pursued it myself, I chose to be educated on gender identity and sexuality, but so many people ascend through their teen years into adulthood being completely clueless about these things, and there ignorance on these issues can formulate into homophobia and other prejudices.
So Sex Ed is finally getting better and it gives me a lot of hope for the next generation. Education is power and is conducive to compassion and understanding, so it’s very reassuring to know today’s teens get this knowledge as part of their curriculum along with Maths, English and Science.