My strongest memory of sex education at school was watching a water birth video. It was terrifying and didn’t really set up a good environment for learning about sex. I remember leaving the class with so many unanswered questions.
Sexuality and relationship education plays an important role in developing a healthy relationship with sex. I have come up with a list of 5 things that should be essential in sex education so adolescents don’t have to rely only on Google.
1. Talking about these topics isn’t wrong
Sex isn’t shameful. There shouldn’t be giggles every time someone says penis. Children should learn the correct names of genitalia and not feel uncomfortable saying them.
Talking about periods is not taboo. We shouldn’t hide these conversations from those who don’t menstruate. If we start having open and honest conversations about sexuality and relationships when children are younger, they will be more comfortable discussing and navigating these topics as they age.
2. The reality of porn
A common sex education tool for young people is porn and it’s where they begin to form a relationship with sex. Porn isn’t a bad thing but often adolescents aren’t able to analyze what sex acts are degrading or violent and may normalize that behavior.
Porn is a performance. It is not an accurate representation of how sex should look or sound like. Bodies look different, particularly genitals. Discussing the positives and negatives of porn can help teenagers build a better understanding of sex.
Sex education often associates sex with pregnancy or STIs, fails to touch on why people are motivated to have sex. Sex is for pleasure. You can even experience pleasure by yourself, this isn’t sinful or shameful.
Sex and pleasure are normal and healthy. Breaking down that stigma won’t encourage teens to have sex but will make them feel better about it when they decide to have it, even if it’s with themselves.
4. Sex is not just between men and women
It is in one’s teen years that they begin to understand their sexuality. There is a whole spectrum of gender identities, sexualities and ways of gender expression that needs to be discussed and normalized.
Having sex ed taught through a cis-gendered, heteronormative lens can make so many young people feel excluded. This means making every topic covered more inclusive i.e. all the different forms of safe sex.
Consent is crucial in identifying and respecting boundaries. This topic should be taught in a classroom from a young age. From the basics such as saying when you don’t want to be hugged by someone. Behaviors around consent need to be understood early on so those foundations can then be built on when young people begin exploring sex.
Giving adolescents this knowledge will allow them to be able to navigate intimacy and sexuality with more confidence. So, let’s improve our communication and talk about sex.
Joanna touched on some topics that have been mentioned before on the #slowchathealth blog site. If you want a deeper dive into the following, you will like these posts.
To Be Anti-Porn, Or Not To Be, That Is The Question by Stephanie Ferri.
Teaching Consent by Shafia Zaloom.
Consent by Kim Comatas.
You can also follow the author of this microblog post Joanna Anagnostou, a sex educator, on Twitter.
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