It’s “that time of the month” again, and I find myself fumbling to use a tampon correctly. After talking with my friends about this issue numerous times, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that my body hates me.
It wasn’t until my sister presented me with an obvious yet groundbreaking idea that I finally solved my personal puzzle. With her help, I realized the sexual education I’d received had failed me. There are about three key points I can recall from my seventh grade sex-ed class: 1. Sex makes babies; 2. Girls get periods; and 3. Do not have sex until you are 25. My experience with sex education classes makes it overwhelmingly obvious that America has it wrong.
In 2017 we saw millions of women come forward with their stories of sexual assault and harassment, all under the twitter hashtag “Me too.” Following the mass movement, Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of Congress on the grounds that the now confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in high school. These events triggered a conversation about how we teach consent and sex in schools.
The minute we start separating young boys and girls, we perpetuate division and gender differences. From the divided Boy and Girl scouts programs to “puberty” discussions in elementary school, we create a taboo around sex every time we separate classes based on gender. With a lack of knowledge about each other’s bodies and emotions from the minute we step into preschool, a conversation about consent is less likely to occur between two people.
In addition to the division between girls and boys in elementary sexual education classes, there is key information consistently left out as students partake in more mature conversations about sex in middle school,.
If you can recall the sexual education you received, you without a doubt were not briefed thoroughly on homosexual sex. About 10% of the population falls under the category of gay or lesbian, and by neglecting to teach all forms of sex equally we alienate those students.
Another monumental mishap in the American sex-ed system is the lack of education on the female orgasm. I remember learning about the male orgasm, and how and why it occurs, yet the female orgasm was presented as a rare anomaly. In a moment of personal reflection after sex-ed, I became aware that I lacked knowledge of this general information about my own body.
In a study by The Dutch Review, rape between the ages of 15 to 19 is three times more likely to occur in America than in the Netherlands. Why is this? From the age of four, children in Dutch schools receive One obvious reason for this is the many lessons on consistent compulsory age-appropriate sexuality education classes students in the Netherlands receive. The main emphasis their sex-ed program has is on building respect for their own and others’ sexuality—meanwhile, in the U.S. we are often told to “not take no for an answer.” To further enhance the statistical divide, sexual education in the Netherlands is required in all schools, whereas in the U.S.,h only 27 states require sexual education and HIV education, according to the Guttmacher Institute. With the lack of universal education, we risk exposing our youth to sexual violence, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases at a much higher rate.
In the fight for equality between women and men, we must break down the system that created the division in the first place. Sexual education is critical for young adults, and such education should be more comprehensive and inclusive. With sexual education reform, a more positive tone of respect will be built, leading to a safer and brighter tomorrow for all.