I lost my virginity when I was sixteen years old. The sex was terrible, quick, and my co-virgin and I had no idea what the hell we were doing. Luckily, I didn’t experience any pain, but, you have to think things could have gone better and been more rewarding. I understand that everyone’s first time is pretty crappy, and that good sex is all about practice and experience, but, I still feel like we could have been a lot more prepared.
Of course, we SHOULD have been more prepared, having gone through sex education in high school. The problem (and, in my opinion, it’s a HUGE problem) is that sexual education in our school system was, is, and will be for the foreseeable future a huge misguided joke. Jezebel recently did an editorial exposee on the sexual education programs in the US. Here is an excerpt that boils down the main technical problems with our sex ed programs:
“Instead of one uniform curriculum for schools across the country, each state has their own “patchwork” of policies. Nineteen states require lessons on contraception, and some include that mandate along with lessons on abstinence. Hey, kids should be able to hear all sides. But many other states are still languishing with outdated, non-inclusive curriculum that hasn’t integrated into the diverse world of sexual identity in which we now live.”
The fact that schools are still pushing abstinence as the singular way to approach sex as a teenager is absurd, mostly because it doesn’t jive with our modern reality. The vast majority of teens are having sex before they go off to college, and we need to prepare them for the realities of it. Abstinence is a viable option for some people, but not for everyone. We need to be teaching teens how to have sex properly and respectfully.
In my opinion, required curriculum should involve: lessons about viable forms of contraception, realistic portrayals of STDs and pregnancy, the validity of non-hetero sexuality, and simply put, HOW to have sex. I’m sure things have changed since I took sex ed, but the lessons I learned were borderline clinical and straight out of a textbook. It’s helpful to have a more scientific sexual background as well, but it certainly needs to be combined with practical and even anecdotal lessons.
If they don’t learn it from proper educational outlets, kids are going to learn about sex a different, non-controlled way. Through experience, through hearsay, or through pornography, none of which provide an adequate background for the realities of sexuality.
Let’s stop starting teens off on the wrong foot. I truly believe that if teenagers were educated properly from the outset, we would see much less unplanned pregnancy, less spread of sexual transmitted diseases, and less rampant sexual and social violence in our society.
What do you think? Is it time for our sexual education programs to be revamped?