Forum gets real on sexual education Lauren Alley, Peter Dissinger and Ariel Kravitz February 13, At Washington University, we are lucky to be a part of a usually liberal, progressive culture that promotes healthy sexuality and allows students to explore their sexual preferences without ridicule. But, as the Forum staff has found, our backgrounds in sexual education vary greatly, and they deserve to be examined equally.
What is the basic style of sexual education you received in high school? I went to a progressive Quaker School that highly valued healthy sexual education, thanks largely to a single literature professor who was also a human sexuality educator.
V, has become nationally famous for his ideas on sexuality see his Ted Talk on the Pizza Model for sex , and now teaches all 9th graders about important topics like defining sexual intercourse, understanding the spectrum of sexuality and discussing the differences between gender and sex. I like to think I received the cliche, suburban Midwest sexual education: You could tell the gym teacher treated the unit as a bad conversation with a distant relative.
At the time, I thought we were receiving a decent education Hey, at least we had a sex ed program! I went to a Catholic high school in Missouri that practiced abstinence teaching. Our gym teacher teach our sexual education class. However, we had a student teacher that semester—a 22 year old male college student. Now, our class was separated by sex the boys were with the male gym teacher, the girls with the female gym teacher , so 20 year-old girls were being taught about their vaginas by a very attractive college guy.
It was simultaneously awesome and humiliating. In one class in my sophomore year, the teacher had a girl put out her arm to demonstrate a point about sex. She told multiple stories about sexually active couples that eventually broke up. At the end of this insanity, she called the tape used and ruined. What did you take away from your sexual education? The most important thing I learned is that open communication is a part of a healthy sexuality, both with your significant other and for those who are comfortable with their sexual selves and your close friends.
Sexuality is never something to be ashamed of; it is something to be celebrated privately and publicly. I came away from sex ed thinking female condoms were a whole lot more relevant than they actually are. My teacher made it seem like it was the second most common form of birth control next to condoms, whereas most women I know are either on the pill or have an IUD. I have yet to see a female condom, and honestly, I hope I never do. They sound super weird.
Many disregarded the teachings completely, doing the polar opposite of what they were taught. The one thing that was nice was that my school emphasized love making over hooking up.
Both are fun of course, but I believe it is more fulfilling to love who you are with. Any thoughts on the culture here at Wash. I think that our school likes to think of ourselves as a politically and socially liberal climate, but there are times where our attitudes toward sexuality are overtly heteronormative and frankly, really vanilla. Greek Life especially is a place where sexuality can tend to be a black and white issue that only gets talked about in very private places with your significant other or a best friend.
My thoughts are probably a bit skewed. Being a WGSS major and involved in many feminist and sex-positive organizations, I talk about sex a lot in very casual settings. How does that work for you? The culture at Wash. There is less slut shaming and people are more confident with their sexuality. People here are not faced with the need to rebel that my high school felt so it all just feels more tame.