Sex ed, a phrase that makes middle-schoolers giggle. I got the period talk in elementary school, right before I went to a big church sleepover with older girls, and my mom didn’t want me to find out from there. In the talk, I got a vague understanding of sex, I mean, who wants to go into details with a third grader? In fourth grade, I had my first Family Life class, where abstinence was the primary focus. But abstain from what? That wasn’t clear to me. Still, it was fourth grade, but my questions weren’t answered. In middle school, we went into the science behind it, and we learned that sex was when the penis enters the vagina. We watched a woman give birth in class, and that was the highlight of our middle sexual education, even though we still couldn’t call it sex ed.
In high school, I learned what a condom was, something to prevent STDs and babies. But again, abstinence was stressed, it was 100% and gosh, who would want to have a baby? Still, nobody told me how to have sex with a woman, what cautionary measures I should take? It was assumed there were no cautionary measures, and the only mention of any gay sex was when we were learning about AIDs and gay men were brought into the question, only to again stress condoms. Don’t get me started on consent. The issue of sexual assault had never been brought into our curriculum, even when students asked.
I had questioned my sexuality for a long time, fifth grade, and it was so blatantly obvious that I was bisexual but I didn’t know how to be bisexual. I had been a “straight girl” my whole life and bisexuals have been labeled and stereotyped to the point where it felt like I was just confused, I was experimenting (I was told) because no one is actually bisexual.
Kids everywhere are failed by their public school education. It’s almost a cliché at this point to say but we have the mitochondria ingrained as the powerhouse of the cell but I didn’t find out what a dental dam and how it was used until college. The lack of knowledge hurts more than promiscuity, no matter what public school administrators believe.