A message about teen reality…

Over the reading week, my EFND class was asked to read Teen Sex: Reality Check. I have to admit, I felt a little silly holding this up in the airport and on the beach, and I certainly got a lot of funny looks! But why? No one seemed to mind as I flipped through an issue of Cosmopolitan, a highly sexualized magazine. Yet talking about “sex” is taboo. We were asked to consider many issues about the media, STD’s and lifestyle choices in relation to the dreaded class… Sex Ed.

Photo courtesy of Google Images

I went to a school that took an abstinence stance when it came to sex ed. I learnt about STD’s in health class, but that was the extent of topics that were covered.  I wonder how this happened in a public small town school? Why did teachers/administration stray away from a topic that has become so normalized in our society? Think about the last movie you watched, the latest episode of your favourite TV show, or the magazine you picked up last week. What do they all have in common? Chances are they all contained a sexual reference of some sort. They give the public, and students (of a surprisingly young age) the impression that casual sexual relationships are the norm, and that they are low risk activities to engage in. This simply isn’t the case. 

With that in mind my class started making a list of what good sexual education should look like. Here are some ideas we came up with…
We thought it should fully disclose the consequences of all STDs.
It should provide students with the tools they need to make informed decisions not teach them to prevent pregnancy.
We decided that males and females should not be separated.
It should involve teachers and other professionals, etc.
Parent involvement is crucial.
It must examine the media and their influence.

Just as we thought we had it all figured out my professor posed two questions that I am still struggling with. Perhaps you have some ideas…

What would sexual education look like in a highly sexualized society?
What would sexual education look like in a homophobic society?

This is our reality…..

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3 thoughts on “A message about teen reality…

  1. I’m glad you brought this topic up! Through my elementary and high school experiences, I felt that our Sex Ed/Health classes were very limited and not that effective. I agree with the points that your class came up with, but I just have a few more things to add. First, I agree that the class should contain both boys and girls, but I feel that there should still be some classes when the students are separated. For example, as a girl you may not feel comfortable asking a certain question when there are male students in the class, and vice versa. I also think that sometimes the class focuses too much on abstinence. I’m not saying teachers should promote having sex, but I think we all know that some students have sex during high school, why not teach them the proper way to safe sex? My friend’s high school had an educator come in and show the proper way to put on a condom, etc. I feel that’s important. Giving students handouts is only so effective. As teachers, we can’t stop students from having sex, so why not educate them properly?

  2. Oh I love this topic! I am a health major and honestly there needs to be more open talk about the idea of sex in schools because clearly in this day and age it is an extremely big issue. If you look back in the early 90’s when sex was absolutely not talked about because of the extreme taboo attached to it, teen pregnancies occurred without any knowledge base. Today, the idea of sex is a lot more open in the public although yes, it is still very taboo but students now have access to information about and prevention tools/ideas about pregnancy, which IS reducing the teen pregnancy rate (although it may not seem like it with all of the hype lately around teen pregnancy).

    I taught two grade 9 boy health classes and our first unit of discussion, sex education. Although I am very open to talk to my students about this subject, a lot of teachers are not and this causes the subject to be swept under the rug. If you do not feel comfortable with teaching the subject area, many teachers are turning to Sask health programs to aid them in this discussion so that their students still get the information without the ‘awkwardness’. But, being able to talk to your students about this subject will open up all kinds of communication lines you may have never imagined before.

    Learning about sex education, in grade 9 is mandatory and unfortunately before this age getting parental consent can be extremely tricky and controversial. The sad thing is, is that students aren’t learning about sex and sexuality before it becomes an issues and I think that is something that will take a long time in our society because of that taboo that has been placed on it.

  3. I love your comment about how schools chose to ignore the topic of sex, but all a child needs to do is turn on day time television, and between soap operas and many commercials, they will learn everything there is to know about promiscuous sexual activity!

    I very much like the idea of teaching students the consequences of STD’s. Head and neck cancer is on the increase in young adult males, and this is believed to be directly related to STD’s. Women continue to die of cervical cancer. And the list goes on and on.

    I will be interested to hear some of the ideas your class puts forth.

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