Which of the following did your sex ed in school (before any college) and/or at home include:

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originally written 10.18.2010  •  updated 11.03.2010  • 


I'm not sure the "how to" was enough . . . but it was there, and it was clear that if we had questions, we could ask.

there is a HUGE problem that 60% + says that they had no sex ed.
what the hell people?

I don't think it's that people didn't get sex ed, it just wasn't 'in depth' and 'current' information. I know that the stuff I got just skimmed the surface, the basics, and it was from like, the 90s, the vids and books we used. So yeah...

The answer wasn't that they had NO sex ed, but that they did not have any sex ed that covered birth control, safer sex or consent.

Which, for sure, in my book effectively IS having no sex ed, but there is also a lot out there that presents itse;f as sex education but does not include these basic components.

But let's also make sure not to blame anyone for what someone ELSE did not provide them. It's not a student's fault for not being given lessons, it's the fault of administrators, parents, teachers, politicians and other people who decide and have power over what information youth are and are not given. Alas, in schools and at home, that's rarely up to young people them/yourselves.

Editor & Founder, Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World
Author, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and Col

I counted church. Church counts, right?

Sure, though I'd be curious for anyone counting church how many were talking about UU. :)

Editor & Founder, Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World
Author, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and Col

I'm counting church, and it's UU. OWL FTW. That is, the Our Whole Lives class that was the Religious Education offering for eighth graders was awesome, and ticks "birth control and safer sex and consent/shared sexual negotiation with how-to."

I also had sex ed in fourth grade science class that for sure covered birth control but I'm not sure about anything else; sex ed in ninth grade health class that covered birth control, safer sex, and consent of the "say no almost always, and always accept no" variety; and a psychology class in twelfth grade that covered birth control and safer sex but didn't say a whole lot about consent or negotiation.

we were just told not to do it.

Like anonymous, I'm also curious as to what constitutes "how to"? Does that mean, say, getting to put condoms on bananas, or a brief sentence write-up about rolling them on?

Because I have to say, I'm not sure any of my high school sex ed/health class came with a how-to component except for the CPR training.

I know when I was in high school Drivers ed and sex ed were one class. Guess what the sex ed part consisted of? Crossword puzzles. And these were SILENT lessons, the teacher did not say a word! I know there may be resources out there but I know as a teen I was too shy to go and pick up a pamphlet containing any reference to sex, STD or the like. There needs to be better curriculum. And maybe the health center should supply condoms in case anyone needs them.

I was never actually taught it at school. My parents took me out of school before Year 9 or Year 10 (Grade 8/9), which I'm pretty sure was when they would start teaching sex ed.
And when it came to the time when I was taught, it was more of a 'this-is-how-it-biologically-works-and-don't-do-it-before-marrage' situation. I ended up only having this vague idea of what went on, adding small bits and pieces here and there to what I knew as the years went on.

Thank goodness I found Scarleteen!

I answered none because no one ever sat me down and talked to me. I didn't need it. I was always curious, eager, and mature enough to want to find out. I read a health book about it at age 8 and then eavesdropped and read anything else on the subject I could get my hands on. I knew what it was before anyone would even think to sit me down and talk to me about it. I taught myself about safe sex.

My school's stance on sex is strictly "abstinence education", which apparently means trying to scare high school kids out of having sex instead of providing any kind of education whatsoever.

I can't believe that, that many people never had sex ed! In my school you have to right not to go to the class (if your parents don't want you to, or for other personal reasons). We were showed and taught everything under the sun, it was embaressing but you can say we were well informed.

I had sex ed in 5th, 8th, and 9th grades. In 5th grade it was mostly about puberty and the changes that our bodies were starting to go through with minor explanations of the mechanics of sex and birth control/safer sex. There was also a box for submitting anonymous questions to the teacher, who was a gynecologist at the Children's Hospital. 8th grade was more about sex and sexuality since most people are well on their way through puberty by that point. We learned about STD's/STI's, sexuality, masturbation, sexual consent, the biology of pregnancy and birth control. 9th grade, by coincidence, I had the same teacher as 5th grade. That was the best sex ed class I could imagine. Of course, there was the typical slideshow of horrible diseases that they always show (which is horrible and traumatizing and I'm sure no one in my class had sex for at least a week after, lol). But then she talked so much about all the stuff everyone was thinking of: she explained things like the mechanics of homosexual sex and safer sex practices in that context; she talked a bit about kink, fetishism, and other 'deviant' sexual practices and how to engage in them safely and consensually; she talked about rape/abuse and how to recognize it, protect ourselves from it, and how to seek help; and pretty much everything else we needed to hear. The class met twice a week for 3 weeks.
The result? When I felt ready to lose my virginity I was confident and safe in what I was doing. No one in my school had an unwanted pregnancy (or any pregnancy). There was no gay-bashing (seriously!). And guess what? There were still lots of kids who chose abstinence (which was also discussed and encouraged during the class). Someone really needs to get the memo about this. Sex ed is so important and abstinence only education is *dangerous* and counterproductive.
Oh, and by the way: I had no sex ed in college! It might be too late at that point for some people, but I know a lot of my friends could have used it...

I'm Canadian, so I suspect my experience is quite different from my American friends who only get that "abstinance-only" garbage. While we didn't cover consent as much as I think we should have, everything else was covered very thoroughly.

I guess I was one of the really lucky ones. Even before sex ed started in elementary school, I was already learning how babies were made. In about kindergarten or first grade, my parents gave me a book about how the penis goes into the vagina and the sperm and egg meet and then grows into an embryo and then a fetus and then it's born and whatnot. We started learning this stuff in fourth and fifth grade, right before we were set to begin puberty, and we were even told how to deal with periods and stuff. It continued every year, with more information each year until high school health class (only one credit required) and that's the end of it in public schooling. But, my most useful information came from home and a program called OWL (Our Whole Lives) that our church had going on. We talked about how no matter what sexuality we were, it was okay, and these feelings are okay just as long as we don't hurt anyone. This was backed up for the most part by what I was hearing at home, but it was apparently not relevant enough to my life at that point (I didn't date until 18) and so I forgot it, but thankfully the internet is there for anything I forgot. Truly, it is the pinnacle of human innovation.

I'm not sure what counts as current information when it came to my sex ed. I'm 25 and I was first taught in '97/'98. Then I had sex ed in my freshman class in 2000/2001. We mostly got abstinence crap, basic biological information and LOTS of info on the horrible effects of STI's. The STI portion also came with a cafeteria screening of pictures of horrible cases of herpes, AIDS, and other stuff. I believe they even had a story about some guy that got an infection, wouldn't stop sleeping around and didn't get medical help, and eventually they had to amputate his penis...

I think my class mentioned birth control and condoms, but there was definitely no how-to. I didn't even know where to go get birth control until I asked my mother, sophomore year.

Millions of dollars are spent by the federal government each year to support abstinence only sex education in public schools and it ruins everything. I remember one class in 1oth grade where my classmate asked if a g-spot existed and where I found out condoms existed. That's all I remember about sex education and I didn't know how to put on that condom until college. I'm now 23 and most of my friends from high school are not married and either have children or are pregnant. While I am definitely not ridiculing them for not being married and having children at what I see as a rather young age, I am ridiculing the system. None of them wanted children yet and if they had had proper sex education, I feel like most of the pregnant teenagers in the nation would not have the problem they are having. You cannot expect every teenager to not have sex. Our schools should be giving them the tools to be safe about it and for them to plan when they want to have a family.

When I was in fifth grade, they separated the girls and boys and told us about puberty, but not about sex. Then, when I was in seventh grade, we got a very basic re-look at puberty and anatomy. Finally, in freshman year of high school, we got "the talk". but it was given by a hyper-religious man who made us all sign "abstinence pacts". They showed us film of STD's, and such, but never once talked about any form of contraception.

My mom, however, is an RN and from the very beginning has been telling me EXACTLY what goes on. When other kids were being told that the stork drops them off, I was being told that mom and dad loved each other and dad gave mom a sperm for her egg and she grew me in her tummy. As I got older, the information got appropriately more complex. When I finally became "about that age" mom talked about condoms, and the pill.

I went to a wonderfully open minded school, and even there, the curriculum was purely what I call "abstinence by fear" based. Telling us don't have sex or this will happen And then spending the next three days showing us horrific pictures of genitals infected with STI's. Like another poster said, most of my friends from high school are pregnant or have children of their own, and I'm barely 20. Only a few weeks ago did I learn how to use a condom, because all this time I've been relying on birth control.

I would say that, while my sex education did go over birth control, safer sex, and consent/shared sexual negotiation, it wasn't exactly all that current or in depth. I had a 'sex ed' class in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, but in the first two they called it "abstinence ed" and the main focus was on staying abstinent until marriage and you are ready for children; I find this to be complete BS because if you happen to be gay, bisexual, etc. in most of the United States you cannot get married. When I entered high school my class was more varied, though it still had a large emphasis on only heterosexual sex and a smaller emphasis on abstinence. It did, however, cover birth control, safe sex, and sexual negotiation. I think it would be fair to say that part of this could be because I come from North Carolina, which, while not on par with the much more conservative Alabama and Mississippi, is a lot less liberal than, say, Massachusetts. This is part of the reason why I debate moving to Massachusetts/Sweden.

I had a high school sex-ed class four years ago, and I live in the southern US. We basically looked at a diagram of a penis and one of a vagina, were told of the pregnancy- and STI-free benefits of abstinence, went over a few brief scare paragrpahs on STIs, and never touched the subject again. I don't even think it showed up on a test. The main focus was on reproduction from the fertilization onwards. To be fair, I'm pretty sure the nurse's office had free condoms, but we weren't told how to use them properly, anyway.

My sexual education experience was pretty decent. The focused on methods of birth control, and went in-depth with condoms. They gave us each a diagram of how to use one, but we didn't get to practice with real condoms. We were warned about common mistakes, and told where we could get further information. When they spoke about abstinence it was either as a tiny disclaimer next to helpful information, or in the context of "No one can make you have sex. Your body is yours, and yours alone. If you feel pressured, tell them to back off." They explained to us what rape was, how to avoid date rape, what to do if you had been raped.

The teacher did very well teaching a co-ed class of high schoolers, considering he was a very young P.E. teacher had never taught the subject before. But one day, we played this sort of game, where the boys and girls each anonymously wrote questions for the opposite gender on a piece of paper, put it in a hat, and a member of the opposite gender would pick one, read it, write their answer, anonymously, and put it back. That way, neither the boys or the girls could guess who had written the answers, or the questions. I was really excited, and felt it was a brilliant educational game. It was ruined for me, however, when the pretty, popular cheerleader got all the girls to read and answer the questions together, I quietly voiced how I didn't think we should play any differently from the boys, but she said "boys ARE different" and that was that. I had been outvoted.

I could have continued playing the right way, but as the only one doing so, everyone else would know what I had answered. When the question came up "What/where is the clitoris" I knew what and where it was. But no one else did, and I didn't want to have to tell all the girls "Actually I know, let me explain" so that question, and several others went completely unanswered, or were given a communal answer that "should work for everybody" At the end, our teacher read the questions and the answers. The girls were given 12 answers to each question. Many were the same, but some were different. The boys got at most, one answer for each question. Before class was over (the time the cheerleader planned to spend talking because she'd "save so much time doing it her way") the teacher told the girls that the reason it was anonymous, was because "not everyone has the same answer to a question, and when it comes to matters like these it can be hard to have a different answer. Misconceptions are made when people think that the same thing applies to every person. I'm sorry, but we don't have enough time to play the game correctly"

I'm not really sure how to answer this poll, because the answer is simultaneously "all of the above" and "none of the above". I've been homeschooled most of my life, and my parents basically dealt with my sexual education by saying "Here, have an Internet." That may seem irresponsible, but the fact is that they did it that way because they know me - I'm risk-averse, I research things obsessively before undertaking them. By the time I was old enough they would have felt it appropriate to educated me, I already knew anything they would say and a lot more, too. (I'm not saying I think I know everything, I'm here, after all! Just the standard things that they would have been able to talk themselves into saying.) For my brother, who doesn't have that researchy personality, they have taken steps to educate him directly. And frankly, his education will be nowhere near as comprehensive as mine, because only I can know what exactly I need to know *about*. The conclusion, I guess? Individualized sex education for the win!

I'm a lesbian and I went to school in one of the Bible belt states. My highschool did teach about the proper use of condoms but that isn't ever going to help me much.
If they ever even acknowledged same gender relationships existed, they wouldn't be allowed to teach about them. For one it would "promote the gay agenda". (e.g. equality)
And by law, it had to focus on no sex before marriage. Gay marriage is illegal here but no sex before marriage still applies and it was only sex if a penis was involved somehow. I was under the impression that lesbians couldn't have sex because there were no penises involved.

At least they didn't blame AIDS on gay men.

While relatively my high-school sex ed was pretty good, it did feel like every sex ed class was the same and I can't honestly answer that the information was in-depth or current.

The majority was explained using dated cartoons or documentaries followed by a written sheet of text that we were supposed to absorb. Some teachers tried to talk to or facilitate discussion in the class, but it was assumed that everybody completely understood and remembered everything that had been tought previously (we had 1 class roughly every 3 weeks) and was ineffective.

Birth control/Contraception:
There was a brief 'condom: how-to' during which the girls and boys were separated and given one condom per gender to put on a wooden peg. Needless to say, most of us were shy and let the only sexually experienced girl complete the task. The only instruction I remember getting was how to tell which way round to roll down the condom (make sure it isn't inside-out), which I couldn't see and didn't understand at the time.
For at least 5 years I thought that contraceptive implant and injection(shot) were the same thing.

were best explained by letting us lose on graphic images/scare stories. The overall message I got was 'always wear a condom, but remember, condoms don't even protect against everything' There was also no mention of using condoms during oral, or for fingers. Dental dams don't seem to be a popular concept in the UK, I'd certainly never heard of them until this year (I'm 21) and having asked several friends who went to different schools, no one I know has either.

Aside from the 'don't feel pressured, Just Say No' mantra, this wasn't really covered at all, I think there was a helpline number that you could jot down quickly if you wished, but not many people do that as a precaution. Considering the problem that rape is in our culture this doesn't really seem good enough to me. There was no indication that rape could be anything other than a Boy pressuring his Girlfriend in a hetero-cis relationship. No mention of what to do if you have been raped ie. who to call first etc. Or what the laws in our country actually are.

That said, my parents were happy to answer any and all questions I had, my trouble was I didn't know which questions I should be asking.
Case in point: After 7 years of so-called sexual education at school, no-one had once mentioned the existence of a hymen and I didn't know to ask. I was at University before I heard the word and it upsets me that I could have lost my virginity without knowing what I was doing.

All in all, the best I can say is that gay-straight equality was promoted, in a least-possible-effort kind of way.

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