Sex Education

Because yes, I feel it merits a post on its own.
What was your sex ed like? What was mine like? What effect did it have on us? Was it useful?
I am a British national, and although it’s true I am more proud to be a Londoner than I am to be British, I still have some attatchment to my country. I say British here not because I’m an idiot that can’t differentiate between Britain and England; the Scottish and the Welsh, stop waving flags, I know you exist, I promise! I say it because I have a lot of Irish blood in me, and sadly there is no such thing as a ‘UK’ national!
Anyway. As a British national, I can rest secure in the knowledge that children in my country will, by law, be taught of evolution and sex. In some way. At some time. Evolution was Year 7 biology lessons.

Well, for me, there was that bizarre lesson during which the boys and girls were separated, and the girls were told about periods. I never did find out what the boys did during that time.
Then there was my “facts of life” book, which talked a lot about puberty, a lot about babies, and had the same amount of space devoted to beards as was devoted to sex.
It was because of this book, as I believe has been mentioned elsewhere, that I was under the impression that one could only kiss (in a heterosexual way) sitting down on a sofa, in an awkward, mostly-facing forwards position, with hands between legs and on breasts. Perhaps that had something to do with my disappointment at not having breasts for many, many years…
My mother also managed to confuse me quite successfully – I was talking to her about the book, no doubt being arrogant and assuming it conferred on me great wisdom (as was my way!) when she commented “but there are plenty of other things that are ‘facts of life’ that your book doesn’t talk about – like going bald…”
Suddenly the book of knowledge was fallible, just like everything else. Ah, disillusionment. A wonderful thing!
It was around this time that I found a ‘grown-up’ book. I have a feeling it may have belonged to my uncle, who was living with us at that point. In any case, it was a proper grown-up’s novel about proper grown-up’s things, including sex, or rather a lack of it.
My introduction to sex scenes? Well, the Irish heroine was determined to stay a virgin, which immediately put a damper on things! I can recall four distinct scenes, all of which I carefully bookmarked with creases at the corners of the pages. During one, she actually manages to sprain her cousin’s…. well, in the interests of not causing any reading men undue phantom pain, I’ll leave it to your immagination. But I found it fascinating, as an eleven year-old!
Anyway. Apparently it was meant to be a murder mystery……

Secondary school, and things were different.
The mechanics of sex, as such, were biology, and all taught in a very cold, scientific, “…and this is how the female becomes pregnant” kind of a way.
The other facets of sex were PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) and that concerned itself mainly with STIs and pregnancy and how to avoid them.
So there was that memorable lesson where one poor girl had to demonstrate putting a condom onto a banana. Classy.

On the whole, I’d say my sex ed wasn’t too bad. It was taught, in a halfway decent fashion.
But the thing is, I wish they’d linked it.
I wish they’d said, Ok, this is the procreation bit, this is “when a mummy and a daddy love each other very much…” but before they become “a mummy and a daddy” these people might be “a girlfriend and a boyfriend” and do exactly the same things.
Because they separated it so far that sex for teenagers seemed somehow different to sex for “a mummy and a daddy”. And that’s not right.

I also wish they’d talked about sexualities other than hetero. They never really did that, that I can remember. Oh, there might have been a few passing comments about “some girls liking other girls” and “some boys liking other boys”, but never in any serious way.
Never in a grown up way. And being bisexual was only mentioned as ‘a phase’, if at all, and anything else, like transsexuality…. nope, never mentioned.
In fact, if they were mentioned, it tended to be in the context of discrimination, and not sex. I don’t mean that they were actively discriminated against, by the way, I mean that it turned up in PSHE as “is it right to discriminate against people who…… X, Y, Z…. etc…… No, children, it’s wrong, so don’t do it”.

I’d say something needs to change. I might start a string of posts about things everyone should know……


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