A Poem About Stories.

We all have sex education stories.
Even if that education came from
friends,
family members,
movies/tv,
songs,
or the internet,
instead of school.

We might have...
Puberty stories.
First date stories.
Coming out stories.
The Talk stories.
Me too stories.
Identity stories.

Sex ed stories are universal - they are the stories of our bodies,
our relationships, our thoughts and feelings.

And middle school is a time when many of these stories are first shared.

A 6th grade students comes up to me after class.

Miss, can I talk to you? Boys keep playing this game during lunch
called Bangcock. I don't like getting punched in the testicles.

A 7th grade student comes up to me after class.

Miss, can I talk to you? I'm talking to a boy I met on Snapchat. I
really like him. He's been picking me up from school - he's 18. He's 
texting me - you know - pictures - and now he wants to have sex.
I'm not sure I'm ready.

An 8th grade student comes up to me after class.

Miss, can I talk to you? I'm gay but there's no way I can tell my
parents. They would kill me. It goes against our religion. They will
NOT understand. But I don't like keeping this secret.

No personal stories shared in class during the sexual health unit.
That's the agreement.
But the stories come:
During lunch.
After class.
After school.
During the remote learning, in the chat.

Can I talk to you?
My mother has HIV, and I'm scared.

Can I talk to you?
One of my testicles is bigger than the other and I think I'm dying of cancer.

Can I talk to you?
My stepfather walked in on me having sex and he beat me. Here's 
the imprint of the belt buckle on my neck.

Can I talk to you?
A boy made me go into a closet with him during afterschool, and 
made me touch his penis.

Can I talk to you?
I think I'm pregnant.

Can I talk to you?
When I was 10, my uncle raped me.

And so many, many more stories.

When students share these stories,
I often feel powerless, overwhelmed.
There is value in listening, but...what next?
I connect with
my principal,
the school counselor,
the social worker,
community groups,
parents,
and yes, call child services on occasion.
And together we support students.

This is
Whole School
Whole Community
Whole Child
In action.
This happens because students shared their stories.

These stories challenge me.
They inspire me.
They keep a fire going inside me.

When teachers can talk to students about

Puberty
Anatomy
Gender
Attraction
Relationships
HIV
Safety
Boundaries
Intimacy

...we open doors for students to tell their stories. We remove fear 
and shame, we give them language and space, so their voices can 
be heard.

When we teach students skills...
How to find help
How to ask for help
How to say no
How to say yes
How to advocate for themselves and others
How to make healthy decisions
How to set healthy goals

Students can learn to take ownership of their stories.

Health education works.

So to all parents, students, teachers, administrators, community members - let's advocate.
Do whatever it takes.
To write a new story.
And to make sure EVERY middle school student
receives high-quality health education

By Amy Dawson

This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Amy Dawson, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com

Pair this post with the following:

Haiku in Health & PE: Mindfulness in Motion by Allisha Blanchette

Fractures by Carlós Andrés Gomez

12 thoughts on “A Poem About Stories.

  1. Lisa Hanson

    I needed this so much. I’m not sure if it will make a difference due to budget cuts but I need to share this poem with my admin.
    7th grade health (no instruction of any kind for health K – 6) has been cut from a semester to a quarter. What do I cut? What isn’t important?
    Thank you for this!!!

    Like

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