While growing up in the South, there were many things I have come to enjoy and even love; drinking sweet tea, walking in the woods, playing in a creek, eating grits and using a Southern vocabulary. The one thing I did not enjoy was inadequate sex-ed classes.
When I was in high school, my sexual education consisted of three activities. One of these activities consisted of every student receiving a piece of packing tape. We were instructed to take our packing tape and stick it to as many people’s arms as we wanted. We then proceeded to prance around the room sticking tape to the arms of our friends. After, we were told to choose one last person and try to stick our tape to their tape. Since our tape had become covered in skin cells, small pieces of hair and anything else present on the arms of our peers, it would not stick together.
Our teacher then said, “Every time you stuck your tape to the arm of another person, it represented having sex outside of marriage.” He then put together two clean pieces of tape and said, “When you stuck your tape together, that represented marriage. This is meant to show that having sex outside of marriage will make your marriage weak and it will come apart.”
The rest of that course involved watching a video of our teacher’s wife immediately before giving birth to their son and labeling diagrams of genitals. I cannot fail to mention that the diagrams of male genitals were much more in depth than those depicting female genitals. This inadequate and inaccurate information is probably what led to three girls in my school giving birth in the span of one month.
This single class I took in high school did not explain what types of contraception were available. It did not give adequate information that would have been greatly appreciated by a 15-year-old girl who was becoming increasingly interested in sexuality and what it meant to her, as I am assuming many of the other 15-year-olds around me were feeling the exact same way. Many of us needed information that would help us navigate that aspect of our lives and we were let down by our school systems.
Many people will argue that it is the job of parents to teach their kids about sex, but we cannot rely solely on parents to give students the information they need to navigate the world. Not all parents care to take the time to talk about sex, or they might be too afraid. We should be teaching students about sex in schools to ensure every student has access to accurate information. Students should have a right to make the right choices for themselves when it comes to discussions regarding such an intimate part of their lives. It is not fair that their schools are giving them inaccurate or incomplete information involving sexual health.
When parents choose to ignore the subject and schools choose to give false or skewed information, these young adults turn to the internet for the information they need, and all too often this leads to them to getting their information from porn, which is also incredibly inaccurate and unreliable. Another thing that is ignored in school sex-ed today are issues of consent.
Consent is such a crucial part of interacting with your sexuality, but it is an aspect that is commonly ignored in sex education. We are creating a culture where consent is not important, and when it is not important in culture, it is not considered important in sex. This culture is part of what leads to an American being sexually assaulted every 98 seconds.
One of the best ways to get information to children and young adults is through our schools. As members of our society, we have a duty to these young adults to make sure they have the ability and the knowledge to make decisions in support of their own interests. The only way we can ensure this is to give young adults the most accurate and unbiased information as possible. In the Bible Belt, where sexuality is condemned in most of its forms, good sex education becomes increasingly scarce in our schools. This needs to change for the wellbeing of our children.