by Emily Rogers
I had sex education in the public schools of Virginia, but it was (considerably) lacking. It was arbitrarily placed in 5th, 7th, and 10th grades and functioned to inform me that menstruation is not lethal, pregnancy can happen, and STIs are gross. Naturally, I had other questions.
Questions about my vagina, how sex worked, what an orgasm was, and why the school kept telling me it was something I needed to wait for. Who had all the answers? Who could I say the word “vagina” out loud to? My mom.
I asked my mom all about sex and she gave me uncensored answers. She advised me to take some time, a hand mirror and just look at my vagina. It’s a part of me after all; I should know it like I know my face or my knees or that weird freckle on my shoulder. She told me the mechanics of sex. She really demystified the process for me. It was no longer this mysterious, sacred act that I wasn’t allowed to know about. I finally knew the definition of “orgasm.”
As far as why the schools kept telling me to wait, instead of what contraceptives were, mom gave the best advice of all. Respect you. You’ll know when you’re ready to have sex; you’ll know when you’re being pressured. So love you, respect you and be smart about it.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I was able to have candid, honest conversations with my mother. But that isn’t always the case. Not all families are as open about sex as mine was (granted I ran the opposite direction when my dad attempted these topics). Some families don’t have the time to have these discussions. Some families didn’t get comprehensive sex education and are therefore not informed enough to give their children the facts.
Comprehensive sex education, taught in more than just 5th, 7th and 10th grades, can bridge these gaps. It provides accurate, fact-based education to all students. And if they have other questions, they can give my mom a call.