Updated: Nov 15, 2022
Since graduating from high school, I’ve come to learn that there are too many gaps in my knowledge that probably should have been filled before I left for university.
The short list:
Taxes: I still don’t fully get it
Investing your money: my piggy bank is STACKED, did I do it right?
A comprehensive and inclusive sex education
The last item, in my opinion, is the most important. Sex education, although a stellar Netflix show, is also an imperative part of a teenager’s education. I really hope that you had a better experience in grade 9 health class than I did, but I get the feeling some of you will relate to my stories.
I was never given the “condom on a banana” demonstration, but sometimes I think that would have been more educational than what I was taught. Disclaimer: this blog post is not meant to bash my health teacher for all the things they did wrong, because, in reality, it’s the provincial education system that is to blame. But, I think that all health teachers should reflect back on their high school days and think about what they wish they had known about sex. Unfortunately, a lot of my teachers avoided the “taboo” topics in class. When you’re talking about S-E-X, pretty much everything falls under “taboo” in today’s society.
So where did my teacher go wrong?
For starters, they emphasized that birth control pills are not 100% effective by showing us a picture of their second child… appropriate? NO!! Thank heavens that we have Reya looking out for all of our contraceptive needs now. My class also watched a youtube video that equated offering someone tea to asking for sexual consent…you can check out the video here.
Here are some more incredibly concerning stories from high school health classes:
“We only talked about heterosexual sex. It’s like that was the only sexuality that existed.”
“I was sick when my gym teacher had to begrudgingly teach sex ed. I missed the majority of the content. I was only gone one day…”
“We had an anonymous question box that my teacher would go through during health class. One of the questions read ‘how do you pee when you have a tampon in.’ Needless to say, we had a very long anatomy lecture after that.”
“This was in elementary school, but on the very last day of class before summer break, my teacher decided she should probably start teaching sex ed. We all sat in a circle and she asked us, “What do you know about it?” I had zero clues about what ‘it’ was. Some guys started saying “It happens once a month,” and “It’s red.” This was the jist of my menstruation education.”
“We were all handed slips with the letter S, P, or CB. I got CB. My teacher then explained that those who had S were safe after having sex. Those who had P got pregnant, and those who had CB used a condom, but it broke and they were now at risk for STIs and pregnancy. I know this is an effective way to teach kids about the risks of having sex, but as someone who covered their ears every time the word ‘sex’ was uttered...this was an embarrassing experience for me.”
Summary: high school sex ed. is bad. The curriculum is taught from a cisgender, heterosexual male perspective. We never discussed gay or lesbian sex. We never learned where to go to get tested for STIs and how to seek treatment. We didn’t talk about abusive relationships, sexual harassment, or assault. We didn’t talk about female pleasure or the orgasm gap. Although it was never explicitly stated, it was clear that my sex education, like many others, revolved around male pleasure.
The benefits of proper sex education are freaking insane. Imagine knowing how your body works and how to consensually engage in sexual activities that actually bring you pleasure! That’s a pretty novel idea and apparently one that has caused a lot of conservatives to grab their pitchforks and book it to the picket lines. Here’s a little spoiler alert for my less progressive friends: educating youth about sex does not encourage sex!
Proper sex education can literally save lives. I’m not exaggerating. As much as I look back and laugh about the complete lack of education I received in high school, I am seriously concerned for today’s youth. They are over-exposed to sexual content in the media, yet they lack a proper education to distinguish what is reality and what isn’t.
Comprehensive and inclusive sex-ed leads to:
Fewer STIs and unwanted pregnancies
Preventing cervical cancer or identifying the signs sooner
Proper identification of sexual harassment and assault reduces the shame and fear of reporting and seeking resources
Safe learning environments for anyone who is not heterosexual and cisgender. Shocker, members of the LGBTQIA+ community are having sex too.
Healthier, consensual relationships
Less discrimination including homophobia, transphobia, sexism
If you are still seeking a comprehensive sex education, I encourage you to reach out to online resources or other sexual wellness organizations. If you’re in university, there are likely clubs and organizations focused on sexual health and wellness. Our DMs are always open here at Reya to chat about anything sexual health related!
Editors: Lisa Hou, Dallas Barnes