Just answer one question for me

Did anyone ever learn anything in Sex Ed class that they didn’t already know before the start of the class?

From what I recall these were 3 or 4 lame 1-hour classes, whose main theme was that professional educators were far, far behind parents (and even the frequently misinformed student grapevine).

A Canadian ‘sexpert’ [Sue Johanson] says Quebec’s decision to eliminate sexual education from the classroom could leave students without the important tools they need to navigate the world of sexual intimacy.

The province has virtually cut specific sex-ed courses from the classroom, instead asking teachers to incorporate the topic in all subjects they teach.

The move will make Quebec the only province in the country without a mandatory form of sexual health education.

— “‘Sexpert’ slams Quebec’s decision to ban sex-ed“, CTV.ca, March 10th, 2008

My take is that sex ed is primarily a parental responsibility.  My own mother was quite careful to indoctrinate me on all this stuff before I was even remotely interested.  She also gave me a very informative book written by a noted sex researcher that covered the good, the bad and the ugly of teenage sex.  Several years later when I had to attend the school’s sex ed classes, I quickly found that these classes were a giant waste of time.

Now I realise that my own experience may not be representative of many or even most students.  Perhaps their folks didn’t sit down with them and explain all this junk.  I don’t think 3-4 hours of school board-mandated classes is going to remedy that one iota.  My sense is that the moral aspect of sex education is the most important, and it is also, not coincidentally, the one that is guaranteed to be absent from publicly-funded sex ed.  Why?  Because the most important part of sex ed has nothing at all to do with the act itself and everything to do with the character and integrity of the partners involved.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who have received mandatory sex ed classes and yet continue to contract STIs.  I sincerely doubt the majority are ignorant to the risks of STIs or the methods of transmission.  But realistically, not everybody is going to go to safe sex extremes and strap on a condom, latex gloves or the always-romantic dental dam.

She said chlamydia is the most common bacterial STI: one in every four students tested for STIs will test positive for chlamydia.

Heintzman said the best way to prevent STIs is to use barrier methods—condoms for acts of penetration, dental dams for oral activities and gloves for manual stimulation.

— Kerri Macdonald, “STIs on the rise“.  Queen’s Journal, February 8th, 2008.

And it will come as a surprise to absolutely no-one that latex gloves and dental dams are rather enormous mood-killers.  Very few men or women wander around with them in their purses and wallets.  So the odds of them being used for casual sex by anyone other than health-conscious  sex-trade workers is exceedingly rare.  Ergo some people are, as a matter of statistical probability, going to acquire STIs if they change partners frequently.  The only way to avoid it is to play Fake Dentist when you want to bang, or have fewer, longer-term relationships with trusted (and verified) STI-free partners.  Ideally a single, lifelong partner, in which there is a mutual meeting and striving of minds, goals, philosophies and so on, not just bumping uglies.  This is an example for parents to impart, through a healthy relationship with each other, over a lifetime of example.  It is not a conclusion the school board will draw for you, even if the data points unerringly toward it.

Just giving people the information isn’t going to formulate a change.  They have to buy into the value system that lessens the opportunity for STI infection.  If you have a kid that doesn’t particularly enjoy school, or respect his/her teachers, then the information said teachers pass on probably isn’t going to make much of an impression.  The kids may know in their heads that without the Fake Dentist getup, they are at risk for contracting an STI, but hormones and natural human desire tend to wipe out such concerns in the heat of the moment.  Character, however, is a bigger hurdle for hormones to overcome.  Very often it will intervene long before anybody gets into their skivvies.

But who shapes a young adult’s character?  Here’s a hint: it is rarely the school board.

UPDATE:  By the way, CTV… how is this banning sex ed?  Quebec has cut specialised sex ed courses but not specified that it be completely removed from all curricula.  Individual boards and schools are free to incorporate it elsewhere… like say biology class.

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2 Responses
  1. Renee says:

    I remember a great episode of Night Court, when a woman was giving birth in the courtroom and the doctor said “…I need some rubber gloves!” and Dan Fielding, the creepy lawyer, snapped “My briefcase. Top pocket.”
    What I got out of sex ed, more than the hideous pictures of STDs (you can tell how old I am – after VD and before STI) and the enormous wooden penis that the Public Health Nurse banged on the desk (We were meant to learn that you have to have a hard-on to put on a condom. Most of us just winced and laughed uncomfortably), was that we could talk about sex, and that there was somebody around who would listen – since she would say things that we would blush to say, it was OK to say them to her. It wasn’t really about learning the techniques, it was about finding out who we could trust.
    My home sex ed consisted of my parents giving me the “About Your Body Book (for girls)” and leaving me alone to read it. Most of my friends did not get that. The problem is age: most parents think they don’t need to talk to their kids about sex until far after their kids are actually having sex. Sex ed in high-school bypassed all notions of who was “ready,” and treated everybody equally so that none of us felt singled out. That is something parents just can’t provide.

  2. Chris Taylor says:

    I wish I could remember the name of the book I got, because it was exhaustive… covered pretty well everything. From where “butterflies in your stomach” come from and reaction to infatuation, all the way up to mechanics (and sensations) of the various acts, how the various methods of contraception work and their relative success rates, progression of STIs, stages of pregnancy, etc.
    The end result was that I had zero questions in class. At that point I thought *I* was the expert and the instructor was basically talking out her ass about things she couldn’t possibly know. I thought she could be trusted, but I also thought she was waaaaay behind the times. My book was a little more up-to-date than her ministry curriculum.
    The most salient advice for me (and probably most guys) back then would have been something along the lines of “Attraction does not equal love. Try to avoid sleeping with women you can’t stand to talk to for more than five minutes”.
    That’s not the kind of practical advice they hand out in the classroom. Not in mine, at any rate.