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April 11, 2014

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

Photo: Jim Work/Pixoto

“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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Apprentice Editor: Marcee Murray King / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Jim Work/Pixoto

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Juliet Allen