5 Things I Wish I Was Taught in High School Sex Ed. ~ Juliet Allen

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“Instruction in sex is as important as instruction in food; yet not only are our adolescents not taught the physiology of sex, but never warned that the strongest sexual attraction may exist between persons so incompatible in tastes and capacities that they could not endure living together for a week much less a lifetime.”                     

                                                        ~ George Bernard Shaw

It seems, for most of us, that sex education in high school was either mediocre, or non-existent.

For me, it was very mediocre. It consisted of an hour in a ‘Life Education’ van in the back of the schoolyard learning about how to put a condom on a banana.

These days, nothing much has changed; today’s youth are learning most of their sex education via friends, porn and online resources. As a result, many teens are moving into adulthood sexually misinformed, often experiencing less than satisfactory sex with themselves and others. I myself wish my sex education was more holistic, filled with the juicy fun stuff, with a bit of the serious stuff chucked in for good measure.

With this in mind, here are five things I wish I was taught in school:

1. Sex is Fun & Pleasurable

I wish someone had told me was that sex can be an amazing experience.

Spending less time on the STI and HIV scare tactics and focusing on the pleasurable and fun side of sex would have been far more interesting, enjoyable and inspiring! Through life experience I have learned that connecting sexually can be powerful, and intimacy with another human can be life changing; why are these aspects ignored in main stream school-based sex ed? Young people are going to have sex, not necessarily always penetrative sex, but some sort of sexual activity; it makes sense that schools teach them how to make it a fun, pleasurable and safe experience.

2. Masturbation is Okay

It should be taught that masturbation is a normal, natural and beautiful form of self-loving.

This goes for both males and females. There seems to be a common misconception that it’s the men doing all the ‘wanking’. The truth is that women are doing it just as much. I believe parents and educators need to acknowledge that masturbation is happening, and that it’s normal, natural and pleasurable. Plus, if young women can discover what feels good for them through masturbation, then they have all the more chance of enjoying sex with others when they are older.

3. It’s Okay to Enjoy Sex and Want Lots of It

I wish I was told that it’s okay to enjoy sex.

I was never told it wasn’t ok, but pleasure was never discussed openly. If something feels good, isn’t it natural to want to experience that feeling more frequently? Unfortunately, the concept still exists that if a woman enjoys sex and embraces her sexuality, she is “slutty.” The fact is, our bodies are built for sexual enjoyment, and it’s important that young women feel empowered as sexual beings.

4. Sexuality is Fluid & Same-Sex Attraction is Normal

Sexuality can change and evolve throughout a lifetime.

I believe it’s normal to feel attracted to the same-sex one month, and the opposite sex the next month. It’s important that young people know that same-sex attraction is normal and natural and that if they want to explore that side of themselves then it’s okay. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are “gay” or “lesbian,” it may simply mean you are exploring your sexuality and as long as it’s done safely, then there’s nothing wrong with that.

5. Consent is Sexy

Education around consent, communication and sex as a healthy aspect of life should be essential in schools.

Young women and men need to be equipped with the communication tools to say no and yes when the time is right for them. If they are taught to communicate, to make choices that make them feel safe and they are respectful of themselves and others involved, then sex will be an enjoyable experience. Much like my experience of Sex Ed, education often centers around the clinical aspects of sex, and not the idea of consent—possibly one of the most important lessons!

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Photo: Jim Work/Pixoto

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anonymous Apr 19, 2015 7:37pm

I work in the youth engagement field. It cant be done in schools. The backlash from the sliding scale morality of the parents is just tooo much to deal with. I was at an interagency meeting in a country town, many were educators or worked in the health field. We were discussing the youth strategy and why schools couldn’t do these things. I piped up that well can you imagine the response if little Josephine came home and told mummy and daddy that Anal sex is not safe for women much more than three times a week as their chance of prolapse is higher than a mans. Forget Mummy and daddy s response. These professionals in the field just about had a collective infarction. One dry retched and to this day cannot look me in the eye. Its a cultural thing. As is relying on schools to do all the stuff we don’t want to (educate in life skills, teach them responsibility etc.) and then complain when we do. Different solution needed from policy makers down.

anonymous Apr 27, 2014 9:02am

Good healthy advice, Juliet. thanks for sharing your experience. In the West's christian ethos teens need to hear that there's nothing in the Bible to inhibit sleeping with your friends, of either sex. Fornication is paying for sex, which teens don't need to do anyway, and which is more about taking than loving self-giving, and it's gay rape and orgiastic behavior which it warns against. Do you think too that they need to hear that nakedness is fine too? I learnt at naked parties that we all look different, and don't have to look like a porn star to have fun. It helped growing up naked, as I and a lot of my friends did,and for some it takes a bit of getting used to, but it's cheap, friendly and enjoyable and sexy.

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 4:16am

Wish I saw this article 10 years ago.

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Juliet Allen

Juliet Allen stands for sexual empowerment & for the rights of everybody to truly and wholeheartedly listen to their body and their desires and follow them.  Juliet works 1:1 as a Sexuality Coach, working with people who are ready to dive into what their sexuality and desires mean to them and empowering people to embrace and accept that sacred part of themselves. She also works as a Sexuality Educator, facilitating inclusive sexuality and relationship workshops for young people in Australia. Find out more about Juliet on her website and connect with her on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and Tumblr.