Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Questions and discussion about your sexual lives, choices, activities, ideas and experiences.
Amanda
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Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Amanda » Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:04 am

My most vivid memory from my public high school's sex ed curriculum was a slide show with pictures of STI-infected genitals. We didn't learn about contraceptives/barriers-- I never even held a condom in my hand until college. We didn't learn about consent, or communication strategies, and I can't help but wonder how my teen years would have been different if my school's sex ed was more like Scarleteen.

I'm doing a research project about sex education, and I'm curious about Scarleteen users' and volunteers' experiences with sex education in school. What was taught, and how? What do you wish you had learned?
"We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph." -Elie Wiesel

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Mellonhead » Sun May 10, 2015 7:24 pm

Amanda wrote:My most vivid memory from my public high school's sex ed curriculum was a slide show with pictures of STI-infected genitals. We didn't learn about contraceptives/barriers-- I never even held a condom in my hand until college. We didn't learn about consent, or communication strategies, and I can't help but wonder how my teen years would have been different if my school's sex ed was more like Scarleteen.

I'm doing a research project about sex education, and I'm curious about Scarleteen users' and volunteers' experiences with sex education in school. What was taught, and how? What do you wish you had learned?


A Summary of my Formal Sex Education:

6th Grade Science Class: I learned about the male and female anatomy, as well as puberty. At the time, I had not reached puberty at all yet, because I was only 10, going to 11. My male classmates did not reach puberty either, and many of them could sing very high notes in choir class. During this time at home, my parents had bought me a little children's book on human reproduction. It covered the basics. Sperm meets the egg, and out pops the baby from the womb of love!
7th Grade Health Class: I had a general health class. I learned about eating disorders, nutrition, drugs, alcohol, and sex. The usual health-related stuff.
8th Grade Health Class: Basically, the same thing as the 7th grade material but a bit more in-depth. Sex education became more in-depth at this point, but knowledge about all the anatomical parts related to sexual function or the human sexual response cycle did not come until the high school summer health class.
9th Grade English Class: I read the rape novel, Speak, for school. It was about a girl who was raped and could not speak for a whole school year. After reading, the class invited the school policeman over for a talk about rape and giving consent. In a Physical Education course, students were taught how to fight back for defense in case they were physically or sexually assaulted.
Between 9th Grade and 10th Grade: I took a high school level general health class, because I thought I needed it as one of my required courses for high school graduation. Because it took place over the summer, there was likely a lot of stuff that had to be cut from the course. What was most memorable in that class was the highly detailed sexual anatomy of both men and women. I learned about erection and ejaculation and the human sexual response cycle too. And of course, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives were covered. Like I said, it took place over the summer, so the class had to be cut to the essentials; so, even though I learned about the existence of contraceptives, I didn't know how to use them. But then, I didn't care anyway, because I thought there was no way I would ever have sex. Celibacy - whether voluntary or not - kept me from undesirable situations.
Sometime during High School: I discovered sex positions. I remember looking at the sex positions for the first time on Wikipedia, and that first impression just glued itself in my mind.
Sometime during University: I discovered that there were actual movements during sex. Sex acts were not as static as I once had imagined. Obscene sexual materials (namely pornography) actually taught me that the penis had to go in and out of the vagina many times in a process called "thrusting". By this point, I knew all there was to know about sex without actually having sex at all.
Out of all the knowledge, I have to say that the pornographic sexual knowledge may be the most useful and practical. At least I will know what to expect when I am sexually ready!

Some Things I Learned Largely Outside of Class:
1. Homosexuality, or generally, LGBTQIA-related issues.
2. Sex positions.
3. Practical sexual knowledge, like knowing how to "thrust" or why men "thrust". The physiological reason behind thrusting may be useful and interesting.
4. Sexual subcultures, fetishes, and paraphilia. Sexuality and the law. Abnormal psychology and sexuality, like the touchy issue "gender dysphoria".

Number 1 and 4 are hugely complicated, and I will not be surprised if each of them cannot fit succinctly into a middle school/high school curriculum.
Number 2 and 3 may be very useful and interesting topics to be added in a sex ed class.

I am glad that this thread has given me the opportunity to describe my sexual education. I hope it's going to be useful in some way, even though my sexual education was really gained during the mid-2000s, from 2001 to 2008, when I was a teenager.

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby ashleah » Mon May 11, 2015 6:58 am

What sticks out to me was 6th grade health class when they showed us the movie "Everyone Is Not Doing It." In my class alone, two students were pregnant at the time. This was followed up with information on STIs, but no mention of prevention, except abstinence of course.

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Mellonhead » Tue May 12, 2015 5:57 am

ashleah wrote:What sticks out to me was 6th grade health class when they showed us the movie "Everyone Is Not Doing It." In my class alone, two students were pregnant at the time. This was followed up with information on STIs, but no mention of prevention, except abstinence of course.


Interesting. In my entire experience from kindergarten to 12th grade, only one student became pregnant. That happened when I was a senior in high school. I think the student was a junior at the time. The only thing I knew about the case was that the pregnant girl transferred schools, from my high school to another high school in the same school district; there was a plea led by some students that brought her back.

My high school district was quite affluent, funded by upper middle-class taxpayers. There was a pamphlet that introduced the neighbors, and many neighbors held managerial, white-collar, and highly skilled positions. Given the socio-economic status of the residents, the neighborhood was often described as a "_____ bubble", because it sheltered us from the harsh realities of life, creating an ideal utopia. The racial make-up of my school was predominantly white, and I was an ethnic minority. I have experience with living in a predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhood, and I can tell you firsthand that race is associated with wealth and social class, due to several earlier generations of social inequality, putting non-white people (Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians) at a disadvantage.

Given the affluence of the school district, I would say that the students might have used the Internet to gain their sexual education, because I wasn't aware of any distribution of condoms or teaching students how to use them in health classes or outside of class. Heck, I learned that the condom was supposed to go on an erect penis quite recently on the Internet, during my college years. I admit that I took a short summer health class, which might have cut out some things in order to fit into the tight schedule. The year-long health class might have included sexual education material about contraceptives. An alternative explanation for the nearly zero pregnancy rate was that the student body largely abstained from sex and/or was protected by their parents from pre-marital intercourse. There were several school organizations and after-school extracurricular activities, which might have steered the high school students away from sex, hence giving the nickname "the _____ bubble". It is interesting to note that the political views of my classmates were actually socially liberal/progressive. In an American Studies class, one group opted to do a project on prostitution and declared in favor of legalized prostitution. Another group not only declared in favor of abortion, but also conducted a class poll. The class poll was almost unanimously in favor of abortion (pro-choice). I really have no idea of what really went on in my classmates' sex lives (or whether or not they actually had one), but if they did have sex, they must have obtained knowledge about contraceptives on the Internet or elsewhere, or perhaps, their liberal/progressive parents might have allowed them to buy condoms and other contraceptives. For those with more conservative parents (and yes, I know they existed too, given the controversy of one sex-laden school magazine that talked about contraceptives), the children probably abstained from sex altogether.

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Heather » Tue May 12, 2015 10:59 am

It's also important to recognize that access to contraceptives and reproductive healthcare is as much of an issue as education about those things. In other words, in less affluent areas and populations, especially those who are working class and/or very rural, plenty of people who may have education about contraceptives still do not have access to them, be that financially or practically (in other words, they don't have reproductive or general healthcare they can get to in the first place).

I'd also add that in most countries, the United States included, minors can access contraception, including condoms, without their parents permission. So, whether or not parents give permission for this is often a non-issue.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Mellonhead » Tue May 12, 2015 1:43 pm

Heather wrote:It's also important to recognize that access to contraceptives and reproductive healthcare is as much of an issue as education about those things. In other words, in less affluent areas and populations, especially those who are working class and/or very rural, plenty of people who may have education about contraceptives still do not have access to them, be that financially or practically (in other words, they don't have reproductive or general healthcare they can get to in the first place).

I'd also add that in most countries, the United States included, minors can access contraception, including condoms, without their parents permission. So, whether or not parents give permission for this is often a non-issue.


Yes, I have recently done a quick Google search on the accessibility of condoms. An affluent neighborhood may have kids who work part-time for gaining community service, responsibility and independence. The kids, assuming that they are of the legal age to work in the United States, may use their money to buy condoms at a drugstore, so they can have sex with their friends. So, even if the school may not sell condoms in the school store or bathrooms, and parents may be completely oblivious of their children's sexual activity, the fortunate kids may still access contraceptives by visiting a drugstore. One barrier that may prevent rich kids from buying contraceptives would be age and transportation. Younger teens cannot legally drive. Older teens can legally drive, and can visit a commercial zone a couple of miles away from the residential areas. Biking may be a valid option for younger teens who want to have safer sex and are willing to pay for contraceptives. Now, this paragraph is assuming that the kids want to engage in sex in the first place. It is equally possible that some kids just favor total sexual abstinence by knowing how to avoid situations that may be conducive to making love (i.e. going to a bar at night, going to a high school dance and not returning home, choosing a girlfriend/boyfriend who has a more physical way of expressing affection).

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Heather » Tue May 12, 2015 1:51 pm

Transportation is absolutely an issue for those in non-urban areas, thus, my remarks about those living in rural areas and access. (For those of us who grew up in or live in urban areas it's usually not, because everyone already usually uses public transit for all the things rather than driving. Same goes for those in suburban areas with public transit: busses are often available.)

By all means, we know from study over many years that some young people do not engage in sexual activity due to preference, however, by around the age of 19 in most countries, the vast majority have or will. I'm not sure what any of this has to do with bars, mind, especially since if you are talking about teens, they can't go to bars in the first place. But avoiding bars isn't likely to have much to do with avoiding sex no matter someone's age: it has a lot more to do with avoiding alcohol.

FYI, I ask people to try not to use the term "kids" to describe adolescents or emerging adults. That term is about pre-adolescents (well, it's about baby goats, really, but in common parlance, is about those not yet in adolescence or emerging adulthood), and most adolescents and adults really don't appreciate it when people talk about them as if they were young children.

Let's please move any more conversation like this, though, to another thread, if you want to have it. It's getting pretty off-topic per the original post and what it's asking for. Thanks. :)
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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Mellonhead » Tue May 12, 2015 2:17 pm

Sorry for going off-topic. I don't think I have anything else to say.
Last edited by Mellonhead on Tue May 12, 2015 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Heather » Tue May 12, 2015 2:19 pm

...or not. Nearly any kind of sex, in a wide range of interpersonal contexts, can be considered scandalous or shameful depending on who you ask and what their beliefs are.

(Btw, writing text then crossing it out isn't not continuing a side conversation, so please don't do that. If you don't want to have more conversation after you're asked to create another topic, then just don't post more. If you do, then please respect our requests with that and create a new thread. Thank you.)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Mellonhead » Tue May 12, 2015 2:24 pm

Heather wrote:...or not. Nearly any kind of sex, in a wide range of interpersonal contexts, can be considered scandalous or shameful depending on who you ask and what their beliefs are.


That's why I previously said "may". "May" may include both the affirmative and the negation.

(Btw, writing text then crossing it out isn't not continuing a side conversation, so please don't do that. If you don't want to have more conversation after you're asked to create another topic, then just don't post more. If you do, then please respect our requests with that and create a new thread. Thank you.)


I will do that. This is my last post.

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby kawani3792 » Tue May 12, 2015 8:55 pm

My sex ed experience:

In 6th grade, I remember we had a unit on, basically, human anatomy. My teacher, at the beginning of said unit, goes "Okay, I'm going to get the giggle words out of the way, so we can go through this without everyone laughing. Penis, vagina, anus, vulva, breasts..." There may have been others but I don't recall. This unit was like, a day or two worth of class-I remember I had worn a really cute outfit with a scoop-neck top and I was sitting across from the boy I liked and I was so awkward.

In maybe, 7th or 8th grade? I don't know if this counts as a sex ed thing, but it seems like it. The boys and girls were split up (this was several grades worth, so like, all the girls from 7th grade through 12th, maybe? And boys from the same range) and the girls got a talk and demonstration from a female police officer on how to get away from a guy who is threatening you, very basic self defense, stuff like that. The boys basically got basic consent rules-don't do anything that the girl isn't 100% there for.

In 9th grade, I had freshman health class, that was my last sex ed. My instructor told us at the beginning of the class that if we needed condoms or a pregnancy test to call her and she would take us there, bring us home, and if needed, help tell parents about the results. I remember her saying (she was also a PE teacher) that she'd had a couple of young boys in one of her PE classes, and one kicked the other in the groin, and the one who'd been kicked told her that he'd been kicked in his 'naughty spot'. And she immediately shut it down and was like, that's not your naughty spot. That is your penis.

Of course, we had to put together scary slides of STDs, and there was never anything about homosexuality, but my teacher did acknowledge female masturbation and also pointed out that a guy who's so miserable with blue balls can go take care of it himself.

I found Scarleteen when I was maybe, 18-20, and I saw a condom for the first time at college (because colleges give them out EVERYWHERE, like, I pick up a goodie bag for the chocolate and gummy worms, and there's a couple condoms, one of which is vanilla flavored). It was very strange to me to have so many of them, and I think I ended up using them up by opening the little package curiously and examining them. My GSA had one presentation my first semester where an HIV/AIDS awareness group came in, offered free HIV testing, and handed around an enormous bag of condoms-then had a small contest to properly put a condom on a dildo the quickest.

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby markopollo1712 » Wed May 13, 2015 11:59 pm

I went to a catholic school, so we learned about the parts of a penis and a vagina, but spent the majority of the time looking at pictures of STIs, being told that unless you're married, there was a very good chance you were gonna get at least one of these.

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Mellonhead » Sun May 31, 2015 7:38 pm

Scarleteen disables me from editing my posts past a certain point. So, I have to make this post as a correction to what I said in my first post in this thread.

Recently, I did some research on sex education during the time and place where I had my formal health education, and I found out that it would be highly unlikely the state (somewhere in the continental United States) 10 years ago would have a comprehensive sex education for its students. Actually, until recently (within the past few years), comprehensive sex education is pretty much theoretical and an active political movement. That means when I was in school, it'd be highly likely that I would have received abstinence-based sex education.

That's funny, because I certainly don't remember receiving an abstinence-based education at all. Unlike other people here, neither my middle school nor high school showed horrific pictures of infected body parts caused by sexually transmitted diseases and infections. My memory of the summer health class from 10 years ago is fading away from me, but one vivid memory is the time when I looked through the textbook and saw a picture of different types of contraceptives. I don't remember hearing an explicit emphasis on abstinence at all. Even when I was a student in middle school, I watched a play that was performed by local high schoolers. One skit was about a boy and a girl who were going to have sex before they froze on the stage. Then, a couple of signs popped up on stage, showing all the diseases that one could get. Although it did promote abstinence as the best solution, it was more about practicing safer sex by using contraceptives. One motto was "There is no such thing as safe sex. There is only safer sex." The point was that, even though some sexual activities were safer than other sexual activities, they still involved risks and responsibilities that needed to be dealt with.

Honestly, I really have no idea what type of sex education I had in school. Since the sex education was often included in a regular health class instead of a stand-alone sexuality class, I'd say that the emphasis seemed to be more on sexual anatomy, sexual physiology and the human sexual response cycle, sexually transmitted diseases and infections, sexual abstinence, and safer sex. It covered the basics. What more do you expect from a general health class that also discusses nutrition and exercise?

How people exactly have sex (using personal lubricants, sex positions, BDSM, sexual foreplay, sexual afterplay, visualization of the human sexual response cycle, knowledge that the human sexual response cycle is NOT what happens during sex at all times, how people move during sex) and how people exactly practice safer sex (how to put on a condom, where to buy a condom, what counts as "safer sex") are things that one just have to use the Internet for.

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby J.D. » Wed Mar 07, 2018 11:39 am

I go to a small Texan private school, and I've never had any, really. It's not a crazy conservative or religious school, they just kinda dropped the ball on the subject. In 5th grade, we did about 2-4 weeks on anatomy (teacher showed us diagrams we had to label, and nothing else), but outside of that, I've learned what I know through the internet. Is this normal?

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Re: Tell us about your sex education experiences!

Unread postby Arasia » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:42 pm

I got most of my sex-ed because of my parents. In my middle school health class, all we did was look at pictures of diseased genitals. In high school, some lady came in and gave a speech about why abstinence was best. So, virtually none of my education was formal.
I had very open parents, however, who would answer any sex question I had. They also bought me educational books about it, and told me they would get me on birth control if I wanted to have sex in high school. I also did a lot of research on my own. I had a pretty good grasp of how to find reputable information online--like what is provided here.
In college, I took a human sexuality class as an elective, and although I was far from ignorant by that point, I learned even more from it.
I have definitely been lucky to have parents who were so open. They are religious, and always taught me that sexuality was best saved until marriage--however, they also knew that I would make my own choices, and they wanted me to be as safe and well-informed as I could be, so they also made sure I had access to all the info I needed.


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