If I’m being completely honest, I can’t remember learning about consent as a child or in sex education classes at school. I think the first time I was ever required to listen to a talk on consent and sexual assault was in college.
When society teaches that the only proper option for young people to handle sex is to not do it at all, it leads to so. many. problems.
Studies have shown that abstinence-only education programs in school lead to higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancies. Far worse, many victims of rape are afraid to come forward, because there is such a stigma attached to anything sexual that they are often shamed into remaining silent.
When school sexual education and religious dogma place so much emphasis on abstinence and “saving yourself” for marriage, it can make rape survivors feel dirty, used up and ashamed about unwanted bodily contact. Sadly, in some places, like this school district in Canyon, Texas, the sex ed curriculum teaches students that their bodies are comparative to a toothbrush or a stick of gum that nobody wants after it’s used. WHAT!?
That kind of teaching is absolutely damaging, disgusting and completely inappropriate. It sends the message that anyone who has been touched, even when consent was not given, is unworthy of love and healthy relationships. Victim blaming and silence are sadly common side effects of such outdated views on sexuality. And silence encourages the offenders to keep on doing what they’re doing.
It’s time to get real and teach kids the truth.
If abstinence-only education is not protecting teens from sexually transmitted illnesses, unwanted pregnancies and sexual assault, what will? Sex positive education, my friends.
Sex-positive education normalizes sexuality as a healthy part of human development. It should encourage the use of anatomically-correct terms from a young age, provide an accurate explanation of consent and allow room to ask questions without fear of being shamed. We must not continue to teach lies such as “sex is only something that two grown ups do when they love each other very much.” Teaching about the difference between love and lust may be helpful as kids grow older, and it is definitely important to teach teens about safety, i.e. condoms and birth control. And — yes, I’ll mention it again — the №1 rule sex-positive educators should teach is “Your body, your choice” when it comes to sex or touching.
Sure, it may be a little awkward or uncomfortable at first to open up these conversations. But isn’t it crucial that safety is prioritized above conforming to society’s “keep sex hidden and taboo” point of view?
Let’s continue to evolve our education to promote healthy sexuality and prevent violence. Here are some sex-positive education resources to get you started.
Liked this post? You may also enjoy these by fellow sex bloggers:
- Can Sex be Spiritual? by Sacred Stones
- Talking to Your Kids About Sex and Sexuality by Sexology International