We all remember the moment in health class when our teacher stood up and announced the topic of discussion for the day would be sex. I remember the girls behind me snickering. The uncomfortable tension in the air was so thick it could be cut with a butter knife.
At the time, I was 13. I remember feeling intrigued. My mom had stumbled through the “talk” with me many years before. It was a good attempt, I had gotten the point, but I was eager to hear a more professional take on the topic.
We all filed into a room, where teachers sat girls on one side and boys on the other. The situation seems very humorous to me now. Did they think we were going to give each other cooties just by hearing about sex and sitting next to one another?
A teacher I really liked stood at the front of the room and pulled down a projector. Then, a middle- aged man popped up on the screen. He talked about some basic anatomy for the first 20 minutes, and I don’t recall him ever even saying the word “sex.” I remember thinking, “Really? This is sex education?” I learned more about sex from TV and the crude jokes pre-teen boys made around me than what the educational system was willing to teach me.
I never got a lesson on pregnancy prevention. No one in the three-week class ever told me to be careful because 19 million new sexually transmitted infection cases occur each year. In fact, we never even talked about having sex. We didn’t talk about it, because we were expected and taught to not have it.
I went to a Christian school, where I was taught from an early age to remain abstinent until marriage. It was something I personally identified with for a long time.
A lot of the kids at my middle and high school felt the same way for a while. Then, slowly but surely, kids started growing into teenagers and at least half of my friends were having sex regularly.
It was then I started to realize how the education system and our parents were failing us.
Because the doctrine of Christianity teaches that losing your virginity is a huge sin, reaching out to older individuals about sexuality or sexual health is nearly impossible.
Many of my friends weren’t practicing safe sex or even taking care of their bodies because of the shame they were harboring.
I watched my friends messily and recklessly develop unsafe habits regarding sex.
I don’t mean to point fingers at the sexual education programs in schools, but we have to step it up, especially in Christian learning institutions.
Education is designed to equip all types of people with practical life skills to help them succeed. You can teach doctrine and the truth of the Bible while still teaching necessary sex education. It is possible, and it is lacking.
This means teaching teenagers what a condom is and how to use it.
It also means educating girls and boys together on the various types of diseases out there.
These topics are not dirty; they are necessary and vital to our society’s emotional and physical health as a whole.
Not teaching these types of skills does not make kids less curious, it makes them dangerously more curious, and they will go out to find the answers for themselves. Sex education provides a platform for middle-and high-schoolers to receive valid information before they develop unsafe habits or form a negative stigma around sex.