February 15, 2005
I come from Madison Wisconsin, which some of you know is an extremely liberal town. My Sex-education consisted of “Going through Puberty” lectures in 4th and 5th grade, Family and Consumer Education (FACE) class in middle school and a 9th grade health class. Looking back the elementary school lectures did a great job in explaining the “changes” that everyone was going through, but the FACE classes were a joke. FACE was only taught for one quarter of the school year, and the other three quarters of the year were filled with art, shop, etc. What time we did spend in FACE class, only a fraction actually involved sex-ed. What we were taught was more of an anatomy class and nothing on contraceptives and STDs. The bulk of the class was filled up with video days of after school specials on alcoholism and learning how to properly make Chex-mix. Then there was the semester of Health class freshman year of high school. This program did teach us a lot on STD’s (their transmission, effects, and prevention) and pregnancy. However, I feel that Health class failed to teach more real life aspects of being sexual active, especially homosexuality. In addition I didn’t have any adults to go to; I was afraid what my parents would think and the health teacher seemed distant and critical. The Internet became my resource to answer questions like what a dental dam is and used for, where to get condoms (besides the one day out of the year they handed them out in the halls), how long does it take for sperm to die, etc. When I came to the U, I experienced culture shock in what others had received as sex-ed, and once again in discussing it with my group members. I feel lucky for what seemed to me the little I did receive. In addition in hearing of the current administrations views of abstinence only sex-ed, I become outraged and scared for kids who aren’t hearing the consequences of being sexually active.
I feel sex-ed should start early. Children should be taught about puberty and their bodies in 3rd grade, and should start their sex-ed in 5th. Once every quarter and one semester in high school is not enough (I’ve heard that FACE class isn’t even around anymore.) I think there should be at least, a sex-ed class for a total of one year in middle school, and a yearlong class in high school. Abstinence only sex-ed is going to do more harm then good. Teens are going to be sexually active no matter what you teach in them in school. Being abstinence can be taught as a 100% prevention technique, but there HAS TO BE OTHER OPTIONS. I personally feel that handing out condoms in public schools does not increase teen sexuality. Teens have always had sex, and will continue to do so. Taking away education of effective birth control methods isn’t going to stop this “teen sex epidemic,” its only going to increase the transmission of STD’s and teenage pregnancy. In addition there should be education on homosexuality and transsexuals. The absence of these subjects only increases the alienation and xenophobic response that these individuals are subjected to. Lastly there should be a fulltime advisor/counselor in each school that students can come to with ask questions, get condoms, and advice.
February 14, 2005
Sex-ed in public schools needs to be totally rethought. Having attended a fairly large school (1,ooo+ middle school and 2,500+ high school) in the suburbs, you’d think that I would have been taught something about sex or sexual health in sex-ed class. Well, you would be wrong. I remember very few things from “health” class – developing an insane fear of obviously wearing a pad, being confused as to why the gym teacher who wasn’t allowed to teach swimming class alone was talking to me about penises and vaginas, and laughing hilariously when my 9th grade health teacher asked me if I was having “family trouble” (i.e. being abused) because I was late to class everyday – however, I remember next to nothing about the various sex organs, std, vd, AIDS, or anything else that seems like vital information that should be taught in a sex-ed class. Granted, I don’t have a great memory, but if someone had taught me (I believe we were given packets which we could read at our own risk) about STDs, something that seems as common sense as knowing how to prevent and identify strep, a cold, food poisoning, etc., I would definitely remember.
In order to remedy this information vacuum that is sex-ed, we need to do more than just update the curricula. First, and most importantly, we need to as a society take the stigma off of sex. Everybody does it! (Or at least has, will, or wants to do it). We need to not be afraid of sex as if it were this horrible disease that everyone has, even if you advocate abstinence you need to know the related health issues. Secondly, we need actual sex-ed teachers. I can think of no person more ill equipped to teach sex-ed than a male gym teacher, and yet that is who taught both of my “health” classes. We need teachers who are qualified to teach about sexual health and who are relatively comfortable discussing it. Lastly, the schools need some fucking money (and not just for sex-ed, but…)! Could we perhaps find a few million dollars in that multi-billion-dollar defense budget to spare so that we can hire these intelligent and forward-thinking teachers to help us understand our bodies and our desires?
February 13, 2005
The place where I grew up was... conservative to say the least. Sex education was a mandatory health class in 9th grade - at a point when one girl was already pregnant. I recall absolutely nothing before that regarding sex. At all. The education I was given in 9th grade was extremely impersonal and biological - not a very practical approach when dealing with 14-year-olds. Abstinence was taught by way of scare tactics (awful pictures of STDs) and protected sex was taught as 'well, if you simply can't restrain yourself...' and really looked down upon. My parents never really said much of anything (unsurprising coming from as conservative of an upbringing as I did) so it was left up to the school system - and whatever I could glean from TV, my peers, and the internet.
So what should sex ed be? Straightfoward and truthful, for starters. Kids should be talked to in a The less savoury aspects of sex should be taught, too, once the children get older. (Rape, incest, child molestation.) This should be a requirement for the parents (as I'm sure no school would touch such topics for fear of the childrens' parents.) because, no matter how hard you try to ignore a problem, it won't go away. Schools should teach that sex isn't simply about men and women who have strong feelings about each other, it's about men who love each other and women who love each other, too, regardless of what the PTA has to say. Parents have the right to 'correct' whatever is taught in schools in their own home. The important thing is that the child knows that homosexuality exists and that some people think it's okay. (They say the first impression is the strongest, after all.)
Another sore subject here is the fact that girls hardly ever know much about female contraceptives, let alone are taught about them and their availability. Did you know that female contraceptives are available to any girl/woman up to 25 who needs them for an affordable price? Many clinics (which are federally funded) offer contraceptives on a sliding fee scale that allows them to give them for free to women who can't afford them otherwise. I think this is a spectacular step in the right direction! I also feel that once male birth control is out, the same thing should be done for men. Just my thoughts.
I grew up in a fairly small, and in my opinion, overly-churched town 2 hours West of "the Cities". My first memory of any sort of sexual education was from when I was in the 3rd grade. All the boys got to have a second recess, while all of the girls were herded into the theatre to watch a movie about the female body. The only thing I remember specifically from the film was a scene of a mother making her daughter a pancake in the shape of a uterus, complete with two fallopian tubes and their accompanying ovaries. After giving each part a name and explaining it's various functions, they then proceeded to gobble the whole thing up. Weird.
Skip to 8th grade health class. This was the next and pretty much last time anything relating to sex was mentioned in my school. Had I not had any previous knowledge, I would have left the class at the end of the semester thinking that sex was the stuff of made-for-TV-movies, and it would either leave you pregnant with a child that would no doubt be the bane of the rest of your existance, or riddled with terminal diseases.
Being the youngest of a large family, and having siblings spaning every age from a brother who was 3 years older to a sister who was 13 when I was born, I pretty much knew everything there was to know about sex before the administration would see fit. So I would sit in class, make note of things they were leaving out or not explaining fully, and sort of laugh it off. I never stopped to think until now what the more sheltered kids in my class were thinking. It seemed to me that there was no where in my school that you could go to find real information about anything relating to sex. There was only Health class, where you were taught that remaining abstinent until marriage was the only way to have a healthy sexuality; or the ENABL (Education Now And Babies Later) club, which I admit I wasn't a member of. Having never gone to a meeting I can still safley guess that you wouldn't be able to find out much about contraceptives there, let alone sexuality.
Now as for the effect I feel this had on my fellow students...it obviously could have been better. The first time a girl got pregnant in my school I was in 6th grade, and so was she. After that it seemed like there was never a period when there wasn't someone pregnant. A few times there was a teenage mom-to-be in every grade at the high school. It just seemed like there was "something in the water" in our town...I mean, didn't they know about the options that were available to them? There is even a Planned Parenthood in our town. If they were lucky enough to "accidently" find out about such a place, and they were too shy or too embarassed or too something to make an appointment, don't you think they would have been less so if the possibility had been a topic of conversation in their sex ed. class, let alone even mentioned?
So I guess you can already assume my position on this topic. I believe that sex education should be completely dissected and presented from every angle to students. Everything from the obvious aspects of contraceptives and S.T.I.'s to homosexuality and gender issues. Maybe this is a little too much of a jump, or some of these topics seem irrelevant to younger students, but kids are developing and figuring out their sexuality, as well as acting on it, at a much younger age every day. To me, 4th grade is when kids should learn about their bodies and what they do in regards to sex. They should also learn about it together, and not be seperated by gender and be clueless as to what the opposite sex is all about. 6th grade seems like the ideal year to begin the more sexual education. Kids of that age seem old enough to listen to the information and actually learn something, as well as young enough to hopefully educate and prepare them before its "too late." Also, the chasm between grade school and jr. high/high school becomes glaringly clear during the summer before 7th grade. Kids should enter this new phase of their life with a full understanding of whats going on out there and whether or not they want to be involved.
February 10, 2005
I feel like I can argue for early sex education because I received it myself. When I was in third grade, we watched a video that demonstrated how to put a condom on (albeit over a couple of fingers). Additionally, my mom was willing to explain things to me at a young age that most parents avoid, and while she initiated some of it, most was attributable to the fact that when I asked a question, she didn't give me a sugar-coated "kiddie" answer. For example, I remember asking her to explain what the word "rape" meant after I started hearing it on the news. Some people have told me they would never talk with an 8-year-old about rape, but in hindsight, I think that talking about these things openly was a significant part of my upbringing. Meanwhile, a large segment of our society believes in sheltering rather than educating. I couldn't disagree more.
So as far as sex education in schools goes, I think the more the earlier the better. While I also believe that the bulk of the responsibility lies with the parents, it seems that leaving it solely up to them isn't working very well. Parents who choose to avoid the subject altogether (or skim over the details) often seem to be doing so out of a fear that merely exposing their child to a word will lead to the child acting out that behavior. But trying to shield kids from sex is like trying to put a fire out with gasoline.
If they don't see it on TV or the computer, they'll be hearing about it from their friends. And if somehow they manage to avoid encountering it in all of these places, let's not forget the most powerful source of curiosity about sex: human physiology. Whether you believe this physiology to be the result of evolution or creation, it's existence is not disputable, and attempting to suppress it has a predictably poor success rate. Kids who are informed by facts rather than gossip ought to be, if anything, less likely to make poor decisions later on. It seems that, even with my apparently unusual upbringing, there is a lot I wish I had known earlier. The severity of the consequences seems to me to justify an increased effort on the part of our educational system to educate children about sex.
February 8, 2005
Welcome to our WOST 1002 Project Blog. The topic we decided to cover is Sex Education in schools. We will all begin by giving a paragraph of our backround relating to Sex Ed. Then, we will follow that up with a paragraph concerning our feelings about our personal sexual education, and what we think should have been done differently or should be done differently in the future. The general consensus of our group is that Sex Ed. in most schools is lacking, and doesn't adequately prepare young adults to enter into sexual relationships. Students in most high schools get their most valuable information about sex from a)their peers; either through personal accounts of those close to them, or by urban legends and horror stories, or by b)learning the hard way. Our goal for this project is to prevent sex from being a taboo subject in schools or anywhere else, and to spur some sort of interest in or action to get educators thinking about what their students really need to know about sex to prepare them for the "real world" after high school, or as in most cases, before.
Also, when we talk about Sex Ed., we are referring to everything that falls under the canopy of consensual sexual relationships. This includes everything from discussing different forms of contraceptives, to homosexuality and it's practices(something that is rarely to never discussed in schools).
We STRONGLY encourage and would LOVE for anyone stumbling across this blog to please comment and give your opinions and experiences relating to this topic. Wouldn't it be fabulous if this little class project actually started a change in the way Sex Ed. is taught in schools? Well...then we need your participation!