By: Sophia Hadeshian
The birds and the bees. A conversation we dodge from our parents, pretty much all our lives. Imagine sitting down with Mom and Dad over family dinner, talking about who you’re dating these days, and the discussion then takes a lovely turn to which Dad starts describing what is what and what goes where. Now your appetite is ruined, your little brother can’t stop laughing, and, even though you’re 18, your mom still hits his arm and tells him it’s inappropriate to talk to the kids that way.
Middle-aged fathers should not be the ones who have to put this preconceived notion about how gross and awkward sex is into our minds. Though yes, our parents definitely should sooner or later have “the talk” with us, they shouldn’t be our only source of sex education. That’s what school is for!
We go to health class, and even get a handy-dandy textbook that has detailed pictures for us. After the boys giggle their heads off because you got asked by the teacher to read aloud the paragraph containing the word “genitals” a few times, and they flip to the back index and find all the pages that have a diagram of the female body on it – you’ve all, in some twisted way or another, gained a better understanding of sex. It’s an awkward subject, but is one that everyone should be well educated on. It’s our human nature! Not being taught about the basics of sex is like not being taught about the basics of food. If we don’t learn what foods are good and bad for us, how can we maintain a healthy diet? Learning how to practice safe sex and prevent STDs ultimately leads to a healthy sex life.
Most teens attending public schools in the US have the convenience of having sex education incorporated into their health class, but others, including myself, attended a catholic high school that didn’t include that advantage. Instead of watching an hour long, natural birthing video (which by far is the best birth control), and putting condoms over bananas, I listened to 3 ministers every year preach “just say no to sex.” Nothing against the Catholic religion and the act of abstinence (I loved Catholic high school and had a great experience), but just say no? If you told me “Sophia, just say no to anyone who asks you if you want flaming hot Cheetos,” I’m very much still going to eat flaming hot Cheetos. They had us sign little, wallet-sized cards that said we vowed not to have sex until marriage. We were also lectured on how contraceptives like condoms and birth control are harmful to our bodies, and that “just saying no,” is the way to go! Now, call me crazy, but a few months later, my class graduated along with some newborns. Effective? Not so much.
Statistically, 47% of high school students have sex. It’s not something we should be pressured into doing at all; when you’re ready, you’re ready. But, you should be ready for when you’re ready, right? Even if you do decide to wait until marriage, STDs don’t just disappear after the priest announces you and your partner as one. So, while 47% of high school students are sexually active, 1 in 4 of those students have an STD. When I was told, “say no, no, and by the way, say no,” other students were taught about STDs, condoms, birth control, healthy relationships, and all that good stuff (not the STDs – those are not so good stuff). While I can only dream of being paired up with my high school crush and caring for a makeshift flour-bag baby and learning how to change its diaper, I was taught to basically ignore the existence of sex until marriage.
Some of my friends who went to other catholic schools received sex education, so it’s not just a “religious thing.” It’s totally the school’s choice whether to teach it or not, public or private. The best way to teach something, in my opinion, is to not avoid it. It’s to recognize its presence, and work to help everyone understand it. The more safe sex is promoted, the more teens will practice it. 2+2=4, amazing!
The birds and the bees are something teens should not be ashamed of; it’s life. It’s important to create a welcoming environment in schools and homes to show that sex is normal, and to practice it safely. No matter what your decision is, to be sexually active as a teen/young adult, or to wait until marriage, everyone should have the equal opportunity to have a proper sex education and to learn about how to have a healthy sex life. So students: don’t be embarrassed to want to learn about your human nature. Don’t be scared to ask your doctor to get tested, and stop making your older cousins buy you condoms!
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