This May, we are celebrating #SexEdforAll Month to bring awareness to the fact that everyone—especially teens like us—should have access to quality sex education! For many years, research has shown that teens, parents and educators agree that sex ed (the kind that covers everything we need to know to make healthy decisions for ourselves) should be taught in schools. Sadly, this is often not the case.
A Decent Sex Education
Sex ed is crucial for all young people because we deserve to know about sex before we choose—or don’t choose—to have it. But sex ed is more than just deciding if or when to engage in sex. Ideally, it should cover so much more, including consent, communication, gender identity, sexual orientation, basic anatomy, teen dating violence, body image and more.
I had satisfactory sex education because my school district has teachers with solid training. Learning about your body and respecting boundaries should start in pre-and elementary school. My district started teaching sex ed in sixth grade, which is better than many districts. Every year up until junior year in high school, they touch on some aspect of sex education. My understanding about sexual health was decent. I learned about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), pregnancy, contraception, relationships, abstinence and a little bit about consent. But I didn’t realize how much I was missing until I joined the teen staff at Sex, Etc.
What I Wish I Had Learned in Sex Ed
For instance, I had no clue about important areas of sexuality, like emotional intimacy. I realized that in school discussions around topics, such as communication and trust, are often missing. Conversations about how our attitudes, values and feelings about sex are formed often don’t happen. I remember reflecting on my sex ed classes during orientation for my job as a teen staff writer and realizing these important pieces of my sex ed had been missing. Communication is a huge thing for me, especially because I want to wait until marriage to have sex. But I didn’t think of its value until I started working for Sex, Etc. and discovered that it’s crucial to have discussions with your partner about what you are and aren’t comfortable with when it comes to sex. This is something everyone should be learning about in sex education.
Many areas of sex and sexuality don’t typically get addressed in sex ed, but they are just as important as learning about STDs and abstinence. Often, sex ed focuses on preventing teen pregnancies and the spread of STDs. But we deserve to understand every aspect about sex and sexual health, not just about pregnancy and disease. We deserve and need that opportunity.