Sex Education

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Introduction:

Sex education is informally known as the uncomfortable talk about sex that teenagers get when they reach the age of becoming curious of romantic relationships and exploring human sexuality. It is the instruction of issues relating to human sexuality. Traditionally in many cultures, information on sexual matters are considered to be very taboo to discuss, especially with adolescents. Many cultures still have the same view today and leave the discussion to the parent of the child. In western cultures there has been a shift to the progressive education movement which led to the introduction of “social hygiene.”  Sex education now includes topics such as consent, sexual activity, reproductive health, and human anatomy. However, these topics are still controlled by societal stigmas that instill fear in sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy and reinforces heterosexual views on sexual identity and sexual pleasure. However, sexuality is embedded in social and culture origins and its approach must go beyond biological aspects.

Schools Role:

Schools play important roles in organizing and reproducing meanings and values across social fields to legitimize structural inequalities leading to. Sex Ed is important determiner in teaching and learning the language and unwritten social rules surrounding sex and sexuality (Smylie, Maticka-Tyndale, & Boyd, 2008). Teaching sex education in a school setting has long been a controversial topic. As a result, there have been many regulations set on the methodologies used in sex education. Generally, there are two streams, “abstinence only” and “abstinence plus,” which is said to also include positive choice, contraception, and the avoidance of STI’s when sexually active (Smylie, Maticka-Tyndale, & Boyd, 2008). The stream of Sex Ed being taught is heavily influenced by cultural values and religious beliefs. For a long time, sex education focused mainly on abstinence only prevention through instilling fear of STI’s and young pregnancy. They instilled this fear by using examples of teen pregnancy and people suffering with diseases such as HIV/AIDS. This creates discrimination towards people in these situations. Sex education has now shifted to a more abstinence plus focus which still has abstinence as its main objective, but also includes information on contraception and safe sex practices (Smylie, Maticka-Tyndale, & Boyd, 2008). However, none of these methods provide information on gender, sexual orientation and sexual desires especially regarding women. Current sex education does not have a feminist and all-inclusive scheme to education future generations on social and cultural norms regarding sexual behaviour (Haggis & Mulholland, 2014).

A Feminist Approach:

A more feminist and all-inclusive focus should be implemented into current sex education presented to adolescents to create a more knowledgeable and aware generation of sexual behaviour. This feminist sex education emphasizes for all sexes and genders autonomy, personal responsibility, full and active consent, well-rounded life and healthy relationship self-esteem, safety, happiness and pleasure (Corinna, 2014). It recognizes the bodies and genitals of all people as active, not just an object and understands sexual activity as a choice, not an obligation. Still including the consequences of sexual activity and the risks but also proposing a pro-choice view and instilling that women have complete sovereignty over their bodies at all times. It educates on the broad dynamics of sex, acknowledging the wide array of sexual activities, not merely intercourse among heterosexual or gender-normative people but including all type of sexual activity (Corinna, 2014). Sex education needs to be more than just informing teenagers of the practical biological function in sexual relationships but also of the emotional, social, and mental responsibilities that come with engaging in sexual activity.

What Could Change:

Sex education is generally the first encounter adolescents have to educate themselves and ask question regarding their natural curiosity. This education should be a perfect place to instill inclusivity and tear down the discrimination. Rape culture in today’s society is normalizing and trivializing sexual assault and abuse which transpires through people uneducated about sexual consent. Sex education should be a place to start the change of rape culture in the modern world today but educating the next generation differently and changing the social norms that cause stereotypes and discrimination against certain people (Illes, 2012). Sex education could be main source to encourage equality throughout the sexes and emphasize save and healthy sex. That includes teaching about not only abstinence, contraception and human autonomy but also about consent, pleasure, and communication (Corinna, 2014). Creating sex education with a more feminist view in mind could help to change the rape culture and prevent future sexual abuse against through properly educating adolescents of sex culture (Illes, 2012). This could also create less sex stereotypes especially with women and allow a more inclusive understanding of women’s sexual needs as that is still so taboo to talk about and misunderstood in society today.

References:

Corinna, H. (2014, January 14). What is Feminist Sex Education? Retrieved from https://www.scarleteen.com/article/etc/what_is_feminist_sex_education.

Haggis, J., & Mulholland, M. (2014). Rethinking difference and sex education: From cultural inclusivity to normative diversity. Sex Education, 14(1), 57-66. doi:10.1080/14681811.2013.824873

H., S. (1970, January 1). Touchy subjects: Teens' perspectives on stigma, risk, and adulthood in school-based sex education. Retrieved from https://ubir.buffalo.edu/xmlui/handle/10477/51336

Illes, J. (2012). Young sexual citizens: Reimagining sex education as an essential form of civic engagement. Sex Education, 12(5), 613-625. doi:10.1080/14681811.2011.634152

Keiser, G. H., Kwon, P., & Hobaica, S. (2019). Sex education inclusivity and sexual minority health: The perceived inclusivity of sex education scale. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 14(3), 388-415. doi:10.1080/15546128.2019.1600448

Parenthood, P. (n.d.). That 8-Letter Word: Including Pleasure in Sex Education. Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-st-louis-region-southwest missouri/blog/that-8-letter-word-including-pleasure-in-sex-education. Smylie, L., Maticka-Tyndale, E., & Boyd, D. (2008). Evaluation of a school-based sex education programme delivered to grade nine students in canada. Sex Education, 8(1), 25-46. doi:10.1080/14681810701811795