My Story: Wanting More in the Sex-Ed Curriculum

By Amy Agigian —

MB shares a few pros and cons of her experience with sexual education in high school.


OBOS Today: So, I also was wondering, like, what your sex ed experiences were like, if you could talk to me a little bit about, like, those.

MB: Yeah! I— I think that sex education was really focused on— I think, like, I felt like you really learned about, you know, the anatomy of the reproductive system, and I remember learning all these different types of contraception, and, yeah, and birth control, which was— I appreciated how I came out of my sex education classes, knowing what an IUD is, what the implant is, like the pros and cons of kind of all these different hormonal and copper and all these— I think that was really cool because I think like that’s something that you really, it would be really hard to like do all this research on on your own.

I think, however, I felt like, in terms of— we learned a little bit about healthy relationships in general and we learned about like the parts of your reproductive system, but the combination of, like, how to communicate well and set boundaries in a sexual relationship is something that I don’t really remember learning about.

And I think like, um, I think that a lot of, you know, high schoolers then go on to base their understanding of how to communicate, and how to go about having sex or sexual intimacy in a way that, like, they see on TV or see in, you know, porn, and those skills are something that are just so not taught or talked about, unless they’re really, really intentionally done. So, I think, like that is something I really wish that we had more around, like how to have conversations about sex with partners, with friends, how to communicate when you’re with your partner about, like, what your boundaries are, what you want to do.

Because I think I— and I think that the reason that they didn’t talk about those things is because they’re so, like, taboo or uncomfortable in our society. But that’s kind of the whole point. Making them less taboo.

Yeah, I mean, and I’ll also note that, like, I felt frustrated because— I’m sure if you have other people you’re interviewing about their sex education experiences, this might be a common theme of it— like queer sex or relationships is like not, was not talked about at all. So, if you were to, like, wonder about, you know, what STIs are being— can be spread through queer sex or same-gender sex, you know, you wouldn’t really get those answers from my sex education class. And also, I think, also, like, the way that the diagrams are, this was kind of something that I know in high school, my friends and I, you were part of this too, of course, our feminist club, where we were trying to think about our sex education curriculum. One thing we talked about was physically, even just the pictures of the diagrams, how like the male penis, you kind of knew— you could see what it looked like, whereas like the female, you would kind of just see like the fallopian tubes, but you had no idea, you know, what did a labia look like, or a clitoris? Like how, how do you navigate— those details were not seen at all in our graphics.

Maybe for reasons of discomfort but it’s really— yeah it’s really, I felt that I found that very frustrating, because it really is not centering at all female pleasure. It’s just centering like female reproductive organs.

OBOS Today: Yes, I definitely was frustrated by that as well in high school.