Sex Education

I had two sex talks when I was a kid, because I had two sets of parents.  The sex talk I got from my Dad was “If you have sex I’ll kill him.  Then I’ll kill you.” and the talk I got from my Mom (belatedly, I was about 16) was “If you wait to have sex until you finish high school, I’ll buy you a dildo”.  Yeah, because that’s what you want as a gift from your mom.  The most ingrained thing I learned from my step-mom (who made it into a mantra) was, “Boys only want one thing from you.  All boys are scum.” and I would be forced to repeat this on an almost daily basis.  I remember my step mom telling me when I was in grade 8, “People only have sex to have babies.  If you don’t want a baby, you shouldn’t  have sex.”  The fault with that logic for me was, my dad had a vasectomy when I was 3 or 4 and my step-mom didn’t want any children, so my reply was, “Then why are you having sex with my dad?”.  That was what I knew about sex…from my parents.

So how did I learn?  Some things I learned really late in life.  I remember in grade 9 I came home telling my Dad we had a sex ed class and “Did you know, Dad, that it’s okay to be gay?”.  He went through the roof.  I don’t remember where I first learned the term gay, but it wasn’t until I was 12 that I had an explanation beyond “boys who have sex with boys and girls who have sex with girls”.  I didn’t even know how that worked for girls.  I didn’t want to ask because I was afraid that someone would say, “You like boys.  You don’t need to know that.”  Sex ed before high school was about puberty, how babies are made, periods and the biology of it all.  My first class was in grade 7 and there was loads of giggling.  The teacher said, “I’m going to teach you what it is, not how to do it.” I think there was a mention of AIDS and how you could catch it (“If you drink a glass of someone’s spit” ?!?!).  It wasn’t until I was taking a college level advanced biology class did I find out the story of AIDS and what it does to the body.

Now the provincial sex ed curriculum is changing.  I’m 99% behind it.  Kids need to hear age appropriate material about sex so they can make informed and responsible choices.  If they don’t hear it from the schools, where will they learn it?  A lot of parents are embarrassed, or don’t believe in teach kids about sex.  And then there’s all the stuff kids pick up on the bus or in the school yard.  Frankly, for a very long time I was ashamed of anything I did that was even remotely sexual.  That needs to stop.  We need to teach kids that sex is natural and nothing to be ashamed of, about being safe, about proper contraceptive methods (pulling out or the rhythm method aren’t viable, I don’t care what anyone says), about HIV/AIDS and other STD/STI’s.  I would like to see an open dialogue about pregnancy too.  Post secondary education is essential these days, and getting pregnant makes it much harder (not impossible) to pursue that either concurrently or later in life (I read somewhere that if you don’t go right after high school you aren’t likely to go at all).

1% of me cringes at the idea of exposing kids to sex.  I wish that they could hold on to that innocence for a few more years and never give it more than a passing thought.  It’s not like there won’t be time for it as they get older.  I know some of that comes from being raised by religious conservatives and some of that comes from the other half of of my parentage where we were exposed to unhealthy sexuality in the form of abuse.  I guess on some level it’s still a little terrifying to me.

Ultimately, I do believe all of these changes are positive ones.  I’m glad that the education will be taught in Catholic schools, no matter how much of a fuss they put up.  I’m thrilled that there is going to be education not just on sexual orientation but gender identity.  I don’t want kids to grow up like me.

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