People Share Their Sex Ed Memories
Learning about sex is a formative part of the human experience. There’s the awkward talks with parents, the salacious gleanings from R-rated movies, gossip and rumors from peers, and then there’s sex ed.
Ah yes, sex ed.
Sex ed is supposed to cover all of the bases (pun intended) but the lack of any centralized curriculum in the U.S. means that some kids are taught abstinence-only while others are learning about consent, gender identity, and birth control, and beyond. And then there’s every other approach in between.
We asked people to share their stand-out memories of sex ed with us. Here’s what they said:
“I remember being in the sixth grade and being in the middle of our first sex ed lesson. This really scary eighth grade teacher came in to ask my teacher a question, and once she realized what we were in the middle of, she started to mess with us. She made all of the boys shout ‘vagina’ and all of the girls shout ‘penis’ as loud as we could. I remember being paralyzed by the awkwardness of it all.”
– Kristina Nicholson, 24, Louisville, Kentucky
“I never remember having any real discussions about sex in school—even college. Abstinence was the route in Tennessee for me. That strategy blows! It failed for me. And everybody I know.”
– Josh Robbins, 35, Jackson, Tennessee
“We had a pretty comprehensive sex ed curriculum. They were desperate for kids not to get pregnant in middle school so they taught us about alternatives to penis-vagina sex. They taught us about oral sex, manual sex, mutual masturbation, massaging. At the time it seemed pretty all-encompassing. But looking back, they didn’t really talk about pleasure. They didn’t really talk about consent. And it was definitely assumed that you were straight and gender-conforming.”
– Rebecca Cohen, 29, Teaneck, New Jersey
“NYU sex ed class. My mind was blown when I was told that people in their 60s still had sex.”
– Teddy Stamos, 51, New York City, New York
“The way my health teacher made it sound, I thought that girls got their periods for two whole weeks. So I had this idea in my head that I would get my period for two weeks, then nothing for two weeks, and then have my period again for two weeks. I remember thinking, ‘I guess that’s fair?'”
– Melanie Phillips, 22, Singapore
“Back in the day we didn’t have a sex ed teacher. That explains the 3 kids…”
– Jane Kim, 44, West Covina, California