Sex-ucation

August 12, 2019

 

Let's talk about sex education class ... bananas, condoms and coach Carr from Mean Girls yelling “Don’t have sex because you will get pregnant and die!”

 

Funnily enough, I went to a Catholic high school where sex ed classes were held in the religious education classrooms and alas, the bananas and condoms were non-existent.

If you attended a Catholic high school, I imagine you too were probably disappointed when learning sex ed was more about abstinence than safe sex practices.

 

I’m not saying abstinence is a bad thing, but I do believe my fellow Catholic school attendees and I missed out on some seriously important education about safe sex practices.

 

My year 12 sex education experience heavily focused on abstinence as a contraception method and waiting for marriage to ... “make love”.

 

One teacher plucked up the courage to inform us about sexually transmitted diseases although it did seem like more of a method to frighten us into not having sex, rather than an educational experience.

 

I learnt that abortions were wrong. Although we never actually learnt how to have sex, so I'm not sure why abortions were even mentioned. I mean we were all going to abstain from sex till marriage, right?

 

This issue got me thinking, was my experience in sex education class the same as every other catholic high school attendee? I really hoped not.

 

I firstly spoke to Courtney (20) who told me her Catholic sex ed class taught safe sex practices and natural contraception methods, however her class was frequently reminded that sex before marriage was wrong in the eyes of Catholicism.

After talking to Courtney, I thought perhaps my experience was the only ill-informed one... I was wrong.

 

James (21) told me that his religious sex ed class discussed the basics around hygiene and puberty but avoided discussing sex.  “You could tell they didn’t want you to have sex until you were married, they didn’t need to say it outright, but it was almost implied,” he said.

 

And Casey (21) said her experience in religious sex ed class mainly focused on the logistics of how babies are made. “We basically learnt about the journey of a sperm, nothing about sex itself, other than not having it till I'm married. There was a huge lack of any emotional side of sex too,” she said.

 

Other students I spoke to did not recall learning anything about safe sex practices, instead they spoke of the bizarre memories they took from their religious sex ed class.

"All I remember was the anonymous question box! Watching our teacher cringe when he read the questions because they were mainly about his wife. We never learnt about condoms or anything," said Duncan (22).

 

Mikayla (22) said “I remember when the RE teacher passed around a small plastic fetus”. Yikes!

 

And most surprisingly (but not really), Shannon (21) said her religious education teacher “told a group of 17-year-old girls that if we had sex before marriage we were all going to hell.”

 

Hmmm, perhaps it was wishful thinking assuming my sex education experience was the only one lacking information about safe sex practices after all.

 

I understand that my parents chose to send me to a Catholic high school and sex in the eyes of the church is between a married couple.

 

However, avoiding conversations about safe sex practices doesn’t stop teenagers from having sex, and a lack of preparation for an inevitable act for many people is ridiculous.

My sex education classes would have left me un-prepared for dealing with STI’s, unwanted pregnancy and feeling ashamed if I ever chose to have an abortion. I'm just thankful I had the internet, cosmopolitan magazine and a midwife as a mother.

 

 

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