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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Sex education should be a positive, uniform experience

I’ve talked with countless people about their sex education. It varies so widely, it is amazing we can all come to any of the same conclusions about sex. Sex is almost universally desired and experienced, unlike almost every other subject we learn in school.

Whether someone is given progressive, comprehensive sex education or taught only abstinence, he or she will probably feel the need to do the deed once in a while. Because of that, everyone deserves a good sex education and there are a few must-have components of that.

Kids deserve to know that sex happens, most of the time, for pleasure. Teaching that sex is solely for reproduction is extremely misleading. Do not teach children that sex is for making babies, teach them that sex causes babies and there are ways to prevent pregnancy.

Because sex is mostly a fun activity, kids should get more of a head start on the basics of pleasure. I do not mean students should participate in a passion party with their health teacher, but a couple of basic tips and facts could decrease anxiety or mystery about sex.

The clitoris. If you’ve ever been with a woman, ever hope to be with a woman, or you are a woman you really need to know about this magic button. It has over 8,000 nerve endings. Yes, many of us learned that in high school but nerve endings mean sensitivity and therefore, pleasure.

Along with the clitoris, students should be told women can and do masturbate. Women can and do have orgasms. That might seem obvious to us college students now, but too many young people, particularly girls, are left in the dark confusion of their own sexuality. Boys statistically discuss sex more than girls at a young age. They learn about masturbation, pornography and sexual desire from each other. But health class should include a shame-free attitude about these subjects, acknowledging them in a matter-of-fact way.

In terms of education, abstinence-only curriculums should not be an option for schools. Abstinence pressure does not prove to lower sexual encounter rates, pregnancy rates or sexually transmitted infection rates. Think of it this way: Someone who had never heard of alcohol, never seen it or tried it would have no need for it, but no matter a person’s education about sex, he or she will have the instinct and desire to do it. So to teach children not to do something they will do anyway just teaches them to be ashamed of it, hide it or hope for the best rather than to ask questions and be safe.

Obviously kids need to know

 

 

 

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the dangers of sex

along with the good stuff. The human sexuality class here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison does a great job talking about STIs that American high schools could use to improve their own curriculums.

Each infection’s prevalence, causes, ease of contraction, prevention, cure and care can all be addressed quickly. STIs are an increasing issue in Dane County, and I feel like there is always a piece of information missing in STI education in high school.

My sex education in high school included “personal projects” about sexually transmitted infections. That means my teacher sat at a desk doing nothing while we, high school sophomores, were set loose with laptops and told to Google STIs. I have images burned into my brain because of it, but I do not remember what STI caused that image, so it was not a very effective teaching method.

Parents and teachers deserve some education as well. If you think about it, you probably learned about sex from a fourth or fifth grade teacher who felt very uncomfortable saying penis or vagina in front of 11-year-olds. In high school you might have been taught by a health teacher/gym coach like I was. This woman was not interested in talking about getting a homerun, so to speak.

Those teaching about sex need accurate, comprehensive information to pass on to the next generation. This information should be free of myths and free of discomfort. Kids should be taught sex is a natural, positive setting that includes risk and safety procedures like anything else.

Parents deserve a support group and class for teaching their own children as well. Parents learning about sex education for their kids, sex-ed-ed I would call it, could help decrease anxiety about what kids will learn and do. Parents all need to understand the latest safety products and practices, the latest statistics, accurate terms and the truth about teens and sex. Sex education does not teach kids to have sex but teaches them how to make smart decisions. This class could be available to parents with kids of any age, leaving the decision of when to give “the talk” up to the parents.

Kids deserve to start at a basic level, and we should raise the bar for that level. Sex is a personal journey, but learning things in college about your own body and sex in college is too late for many people. Learning more about safety and pleasure earlier could help on the journey to safer sex.

Do you feel that your sex education was enough, or do you think it was lacking? Tell us your thoughts! Please send feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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