gURLs sound off on sex ed at their schools

Writing this blog has taught me a lot about the situation inside America’s “sex education” classrooms.

Some of my knowledge has come from closely following the news on this topic, but plenty has also come directly from comments that you have left after the posts.

I’ve really enjoyed reading them, so I thought I would share some highlights with you:

ArielMeog says, “I live in North Carolina … I can tell you loads of bull crap I got from the abstinence-only ed. It’s the whole “girls give sex to get love, boys give love to get sex.” They basically promoted the stereotypes that girls were weak and gullible while boys were unable to control their urges.

In my ninth grade health textbook there was a load of information on drugs such as marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, barbiturates, meth … very comprehensive information. But when it came to sex it was ‘SEX IS BAD, YOU ARE GUARANTEED AN STD AND PREGNANCY. PLUS, IT GOES AGAINST YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS!’ And I go to a public school.”

Leah says, “At my school in Michigan, we get the whole abstinence-only education crap. Even our STD unit sucks. They basically tell us, ‘If you have sex, you will get chlamydia and die, even if the person does not have chlamydia. If you wait until you get married, you will never ever get an STD … even if your husband has one.’

In the entire program, (STD and standard sex ed) I never heard the words “condom” or “birth control”–except the first day, when we were told that we weren’t allowed to say them. The sex ed unit was just about a bunch of pregnant girls talking about how much their life sucks.”

Elizabeth says, “When I was in ninth grade, sex ed was taught by my health teacher. He was a football coach and did the ‘sex is scary, giving birth is scary, and sex will make you diseased and gross’ thing.

Miranda says, “In eighth grade (supposedly our “big sex ed year”) it was kinda comprehensive, which was good, only our teacher was a big believer in abstinence until marriage and she kept talking about our virginity as a “gift to give to the right man” and other stuff like that.

Anna says, “We just recently had the annual ‘AIDS Presentation.’ It essentially told us this:

  • We push abstinence-only, because you’re irresponsible
  • All drugs will kill you the first time
  • We push abstinence-only
  • People get high and get raped at all raves
  • The techno music at raves will make you start worshipping Satan
  • We PUSH abstinence only
  • If your boy/girlfriend shows any signs of jealousy, s/he’s abusing you

I also learned that most of the, like, 200 7th graders at my school think that if a girl is the victim of domestic (dating) abuse, it’s her fault. How sad is that? Really. It makes me sick.”

Deanna says, “I’m in 9th grade, in Georgia. In 6th grade we began the ‘real’ sex-ed class and the teacher stated that abstinence was the only way to protect yourself from HIV/AIDS and she didn’t mention that condoms would serve any purpose until I raised my hand!

Now, we are taught abstinence and a little bit about contraception. This year I was lucky enough to have a teacher who was straightforward and knew how to get through to kids. His stance was, ‘Even if we don’t want them to have sex, they’re gonna do it, so they might as well learn how to be safe when doing it.’ He was great. The only bad thing was he couldn’t answer all the questions because of the laws.”

Opheliasawake says, “My sex ed class was horrible. We went into great detail about STDs and AIDS, and then my teacher propagated several myths, including (but not limited to) condoms having a 30% failure rate and that AIDS arose from homosexual sex. I brought in an article from a scientific journal that demonstrated that the HIV virus came from a hunter getting contaminated monkey blood on his hands. She responded by making us watch a video from the Reagan era where a female AIDS victim who got it from a bad transfusion told us that abstinence was the only way to avoid HIV. She also refused to publicize the location of Planned Parenthood, where I used to volunteer. Not exactly ‘You will get pregnant and die,’ but close.”

What’s sex ed like at your school?

Posted in: Health, Sex & Relationships, The State of Sex Ed, Virginity
Tags: , , ,
  • luna

    well i live in michigan and i am in 8th right now and the sex ed i had in school for the first half of fifth grade there was none but then i came to a different school district and we learned about puberty and that was about it no mention of sex in 6th grade i dont think we learned about sex it was puberty and such again so if kids in my district only know what they learned in health class then well there screwed

  • Carmen

    I'm in 10th grade and I haven't taken a health class since 8th grade (I wanted the high school credit early).
    I've been reading through these posts and it saddens me to see that (almost) everyone is saying the same thing: Health class pushes abstinence only and the teachers (by law?!) aren't allowed to answer the most important questions.
    I honestly don't remember much of our sexual education portion of health class, but I'm fairly certain we at least covered the different STDs that you can get, how you can get them and ways to protect yourself. I do remember the, "The only sure way to protect yourself is to remain abstinent!" speech, but it was stressed that you can get an STD from ANYONE if you don't have them checked, and that if you're going to have sex, you should ALWAYS use a condom.
    To be truthful, I believe that one of my normal teachers (science..?) in eighth grade went over it more fully than our health class did because she knew that she wasn't restricted to a curriculum for that discussion.
    I really hope that teachers (or states, if this really is a legal issue) realize that by the time half of teenagers are 15, they've already had sex or are close to it. Sexual Education needs to be comprehensive and straightforward or the situation will never improve.

  • Angela

    I'm in eighth grade in Florida and have no sex ed. I really want it, because I find sexuality and anything of that nature infinitely interesting. I had it last year and she thought she could trick us. She said, "I'm gonna level with you, condoms don't work and you will get an STD the first time most likely. Pregnancy sucks and anyone who says anything other than that is trying to rape you." She tried to trick us into thinking she was being real with us when she said "I'm gonna level with you", but she went on to state things that are completely untrue. That was better than what we got in my old catholic school, where we went into the mind numbing details and anyone who even hinted at having sex before you're married was taken out of the class and lectured at. I have never heard about masturbation in a classroom setting. My parents are catholic and still say that premarital is horrible and doesn't even feel all that great. Also, we never learned that it's okay to be GLBTQ. At this point in my life, if I got pregnant, my boyfriend and I would both be kicked out of our houses.

  • Bridget

    yeah i got sex ed my freshman yr at my school. im 18 and im still learning about sex b/c schools do a pretty crappy job of explaining things. i found out almost everything about sex through my parenting class, not even the sex-ed class i had. so i think kids should take parenting instead of sex-ed. and take home the robotic babies for a week. how funt hat was! haha. but reeally schools dont wanna talk about sex so they let u find out on your own which is a blessing and a curse. but to everyone be safe if u are haqving sex. u wont die if u have sex (usually), but keep it in the back of your mind.

  • maddieeee

    Ok this is just craziness.
    I live in Alberta, Canada, and we get our sex ed in high school from this course we all have to take to graduate called CALM (Career And Life Management). In the course, they get someone from Planned Parenthood in to talk to us and they are totally open about everything from birth control to STDs. They also get people in to talk about sexual assault etc. They do mention that abstinence is the only absolute 100% way to guarantee you will not get pregnant or get an STD, but condoms and other methods are perfectly good options too, and they didn't tell lies about them or anything like a lot of these US stories seem to suggest. There is definitely no "abstinence only" policy. People trying to push that are such boneheads… makes me mad.
    They definitely stressed that really bad serious things can happen to you if you're not careful (i.e. AIDS, unwanted pregnancy) but there was also a big emphasis on how to keep yourself safe overall, and we got all the facts.

  • Melissa


  • amy

    UK sex-ed is exactly how it should be, except perhaps it should start a little earlier.
    Explanatory but not pornographic.
    Starts in year 5 (age 10) and continues every year after that.
    It's basically secular, and preaches safe sex rather than abstinence, although we tend to do more of the biology and how and when and puberty and such. We don't tend to start on actual sex until Year 9 (age 14), by which time a lot of my friends had lost it already.
    The exact content can depend on the teacher, since they make their own lesson plans, and parents can opt their children out of the programme, but other than that it's all good.

  • Anonymous1

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  • LIzzy

    my county is an abstinence based system. i remember VIVIDLY! this one lady we had in 8th grade. i wish i could go back at look at her and punch her in the face. she talked about condoms. sure. but she scared us into not using them. she pulled out a latex glove. and told us that the glove is how ever many percent thicker than a condom. and then proceeded to break it into pieces with her finger nails. i wish i could go back and look at her and say "Since when do penis' have sharp pointy things on them that will do that?" she also had this big stuffed sperm thingy. it was this big yellow stuffed thing with a red tail. and it stretched across the whole room. she then held up a penny. and said "the aids viris compared to a single sperm is like being the size of a penny compared to this giant oversized sperm i have here… and condoms have pores on them. and blah blah the aids virus can leak thru the condom" (i exagerated what she said, but the end part was one thing she really did say) which, is a bunch of hooey. then. in high school. my teacher didnt bother with sex ed. he looked at us. and was like. "you know sex is bad. dont be stupid about it. ok. there we've done sex ed" i was so pissed at how lazy he was. i'd say honestly. my mom was my best sex ed teacher. she always wanted me to know everything about everything she never knew about when she was a kid. she got me books about everything and informed me to stay educated. i'm happy to say i've been having sex for almost a year now. have had more than one partner. and ALWAYS have used a condom. and none have broken on me yet. and i'm still not pregnant or have any std.

  • Laura

    I've been in New Jersey schools for the majority of my educational experience. Currently I am in college. My "health class" was actually progressive compared to the majority of other posters. In middle school I had a funny-crazy health teacher that said things like "masturbation is healthy and good for you." She showed us how to put condoms on bananas. Also we learned about our bodies as they mature, saw a pregnancy on video, and we could ask questions at any time. I don't recall if we went into homosexual health ed but it was pretty thorough for a middle school sex ed. program.
    In high school my health education program actually wasn't as detailed as in middle school (though it was the same public school system). The way the class was taught depended on the teacher. We had health education for one marking period (half a semester) every year. Each health education program focused on something different nutrition, drugs, sex, or dating. However sex was always briefly brought up as well as stds. We were taught about the variety of contraceptives and if someone asked they'd mention safer sex for homosexuals. We did cover things like orientation and even sexual disorders.
    However ignorance did creep in when it came to the marking period when we dealt with dating and abuse. We watched two different videos in which a teenage boy killed his girlfriend. My health education teacher said teenagers were too immature to be dating. That was why such a horrible thing occurred in the video. Clearly the man has no sense of psychology in general. The boys were both abusive/ controlling personality types. Instead of basically telling us "avoid dating until you are no longer idiots (which somehow happens when you turn 18)." He should of told us what the signs of an abusive relationship was (and to note that women can abuse men too) and what a person can do in such a situation.

  • anais

    well, since i'm homeschooled, i basically learned shit. i found everything out from my friends and the internet. when my mom does try to (REALLY AWKWARDLY) bring up sex, it's always: if you have sex you will DIE AND GO TO HELL. if you do drugs you will DIE AND GO TO HELL etc. heheheheh

  • anais

    well, since i’m homeschooled, i basically learned shit. i found everything out from my friends and the internet. when my mom does try to (REALLY AWKWARDLY) bring up sex, it’s always: if you have sex you will DIE AND GO TO HELL. if you do drugs you will DIE AND GO TO HELL etc. heheheheh

  • Most of the time, sex education should be learned not in schools, but discussed in between peers and family relatives. With people who you trust but won't necessarily overprotect you nor tolerate you too much into the point of pushing you off a cliff. IMO, the sex ed they're implying is like strangling you and feeding you with bullcrap. In the end it's still our own judgement and decisions that would either make us or break us.

  • Samantha

    I haven't had sex ed at my school because I didn't have to take that class(you can get out of it with a signed paper,which isn't always the best thing since not everyone knows about sex but it's not a class you take until your a junior,most of the time anyways)I think at our school we just need more sex ed,I mean theres ways to get information like at our family resource center and everything but not everyone knows that and not everyone is comfortable going there to talk to an adult about sex.
    At my middle school the sex ed was pretty bad it just made me scared to have sex but didn't really teach me much about protection and I think without my friends and the internet I wouldn't have known like anything about sex.:P
    Now I know though and my friends know they can come to me which I think is good and I'm glad.
    I just wish my brother had talked to me more in detail since he had unprotected sex thinking it was ok since he didn't finish,I'm like haven't you ever heard of precum he's like no.I'm like omg and smacked him and told him to go get condoms.:P

  • mickey

    at my school sex ed is great my teachers talks about what she feels like.whats better is that shes pregnant. we had it in grade 8 for stds but now its full on sex there arent any rules and u can ask whatever you like they dont push abstinence just say that thats the safest way but if you really want to have sex then theyll tell you how to be safe. if your too uncomfortable to ask a question out loud then she places a little box on her desk where everyone writes a question puts it in and she answers. we talk about sex stds pregnancy physical things periods everything its great and if theres any rules on what the can talk about then they dont folow:D

  • chrystlin_cuppicake

    at my school, abstinence is pushed a lot on the kids, but thats because its a catholic school and its against the faith to enter into pre-marital sex.
    for myself, i believe in waiting until marriage, simply because i want it to be special. not something i regret, you know? and in my opinion, if you feel so strongly about me that you just have to sleep with me, then you should want to spend your life with me.
    but in general, i would say any waiting is good. even if it's not till marriage, waiting is better than giving yourself out on the first date. it helps to develop self-control, and self-respect, protects you from common risks that go along with an intimate relationship, and it makes it a lot easier for the first time to really mean something and not be something you regret.
    anyway, that's just my humble opinion 😛

  • countrychick

    I am in the 9th grade and sex-ed at our school is HORRIBLE (well i think it is anyway)! When we learned about STDs we did a packet where we wrote the symptoms, treatment, complications, and preventions down and we discussed them a little bit. Well the subject was kinda awkward anyways because just about everyone was afraid to ask questions about it. Well the teacher told us what to write down under each category and she was very vague on the subject. Well when it came to the prevention part her only answer was ABSTINENCE!!! She WOULD NOT tell us any other ways of prevention. When she was asked of other ways of prevention she said the ONLY way to prevent an STD or pregnancy is ABSTINENCE!!! I was furious!!! I REALLY wish they would teach us about safe sex becuase most people can't honestly say that they made it through high school without having sex. I haven't had sex personally but me and my boyfriend have talked about the possibility of it happening. And I'm usually considered one of the "good girls" so if I'm thinking about having sex then I know that other teens are too. I just REALLY wish they would teach safe sex in ALL schools. Maybe there wouldn't be as many pregnant teens and as many STDs if they did. I'm from a pretty small "country" town and we have quite a few pregnant girls at our school and I think if they would teach us safe sex we wouldn't have so many.

  • kathryn

    i live in maryland…when i took sex ed in tenth grade two years ago, they pushed mostly abstinence…we were told about different types of STDs and contraceptives but we didnt really discuss anything…now my little bro is taking sex ed and they finally r teaching safe sex…now they watch a birth video, a how to put on a condom video, and all this other stuff
    i was like finally they teach this stuff…yea adults and teachers may want teens to be abstinent, but the reality is that teens have sex and need to be taught how to be safe

  • hannie

    I'm glad we didn't move to the US when I was 12. I live in Belgium, where we have very low numbers of teen pregnancies and there just isn't this culture of fear around sex. It's a part of life. We didn't really have a sex ed class, we just got the info in biology class. In sixth grade we learnt about puberty and how sex works and basic contraception, in 8th grade we got more of that and we went into more detail about how things work. Then in 10th grade we had what was known under the students as "sex day" where we passed around every type of birth control known to man, we discussed al sorts of things, and where allowed to ask anything we wanted. Then in 12th grade we actually learnt really detailed biology of the development of sperm and eggcells and of the embryo. We went into all the detail about the hormonal cycles of the birth and prenatal testing etc. We learnt about the different types of birth control and exactly how they worked. Everything was very scientific, but that's what you get in a science class.

  • Annmarie

    I mostly look things up on the internet to find out things about sex. My school only has a 'health class' and it talks about everything BUT sex. They only touch on the subject and don't really inform kids about the important stuff. I think that teachers in a public school should be honest and open and not share their personal opinions but rather stick with the TRUTH. I personally don't think people should go about uninformed about sex or else someone will take advantage of their ignorance.