• Thu, Mar 31 2011

Video: Kids Ask for Sex Education

When I was in 5th grade, I had my first dose of sex ed. My class sat helplessly by as our health teacher showed us an animated video that included footage of a boy sitting up in bed and jerking off under the covers. While we watched it, I think I was passing notes that read “Mr. Brown smells like shit,” or some such witticism, because I was just learning about how to wield curse words (I’ve since, obviously, refined my usage) and I had no idea WTF was going on onscreen.

Then in middle school, I vaguely remember a talk about tampons, and in high school, we were shown traumatizing images of herpes sores that I now realize reflected the absolute worst case scenario.

That was the extent of my sex education. It’s a miracle I’m not pregnant without knowing it even as we speak.

Anyway, I assume my experience with sex ed isn’t uncommon, but I didn’t go so far as to ask for anything different. Fortunately, this group of teens from Jamaica Plain in Boston (holla) is a lot more proactive and resourceful than I was, and made a documentary about why they want comprehensive sex education.

The group, led by Samantha Brea of a local organization called the Hyde Square Task Force, is asking the city to provide classes that teach kids about safe sex, in an effort, says one teen boy, to “fight for sex education as part of a fight for health equity.”

The video below from CNN also includes an interview with Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who is shown telling her fellow council members that “some people consider it controversial that we may take action to tackle this issue. Not taking action — now that would be controversial.”

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  • Arnie

    I’m always shocked by how little kids get taught overseas.

    I live in New Zealand, and the public school I went to taught us pretty much everything. At intermediate we did the whole puberty thing, and then the first two years we did a ton of stuff on sex ed. All the different kinds of contraception, how they worked, what they were best for, and all of that. The best part was always the hilariously awkward lesson where we got to put condoms on wooden penises. Our teacher even encouraged us to blow them up, so we could see how strong they were. Then there were the STD pictures, which, like you say, were worst case scenario pictures, and a couple of days on “Romantic feelings” and knowing when to say no.
    We also did a unit in science on human reproduction, and how everything works with the whole babymaking shabang (Yes shabang. Do not hate on the awesomeness of this word). After that, a fair few of the girls in my class were of the opinion that they were never letting any man near them ever again. That didn’t last for all that long, but I’m twenty now, and only know of one girl in my year who’s had a kid so far, so someone probably learnt something.

    Teenagers are going to have sex. Much as many high minded people in various positions of authority might try to stop it, it’s going to happen, so they’d bloody well better be prepared for it.

  • Heather

    I’m always shocked by how much sex ed people in other countries got…

    I had the tampons talk three times in 5 years, and a few weeks in science class on human reproductive biology. The only contraception we were taught about was abstinence – and even then it was of the “don’t have sex or you will die and go to hell!!!” variety.

    Admittedly I went to catholic school, however there were sections in the church-approved ‘religious education’ textbook on ‘feelings and how to say no’, ‘how to make babies’ and ‘how to not make babies’. These were sections we never covered in class. By that I mean we were never allowed to cover. One time when the Tampax lady came for her visit, she was horrified that we didnt know about the church-approved ‘rythym method’ which, until then, I had thought was some kind of move you might find in the kama sutra.

    By the time I left high school several girls were pregnant. Shotgun weddings ensued.

  • Eileen

    Eh. I didn’t think my sex ed was so bad (public school). Then again, it’s hard to piece it all together because I’m sure a lot came from my parents and books that I read outside of class. Puberty came up starting in fifth/sixth grade and high school biology did a better job of covering the actual mechanics of reproduction than health class did (FSH, LH, estrogen/progesterone, etc.) We didn’t spend much time addressing the emotional aspect of sexual relationships, but I always thought that that was more private and something that people should think through for themselves.

    I don’t even really know if my school’s health class was “abstinence-only” – they definitely told us that abstinence was the only surefire way not to get pregnant or contract an STD, but that’s true. I do remember mentions of various forms of birth control and that they could be partially effective when used correctly. And we talked a LOT about sexual assault and knowing what consent was (saying yes) and what it was not (failure to say no).

  • Lisa

    Holla back!