I’m from the good ol’ town of Greenville, South Carolina. Our town is famous for two things: Reedy River Park, and Mike Fair, the legislative blocker of all things good and wholesome. Welcome to the Upstate.
I received my sex education experience both in middle school and high school. Our sex education in middle school stemmed from a chapter within our health education class, a class designed to talk about the food pyramid and exercise- not STIs. I remember the uncomfortable feeling of learning “how to meet the physical activity guidelines” on a Wednesday, then following up on Thursday with a chapter on how babies were made. Not a smooth transition. My instructor refused to use the medically accurate terms for body parts and organs. Additionally, my instructor was not certified and filled a majority of the lecture with abstinence based personal anecdotes. As if I, as a 12 year old, was really interested in learning how she received herpes on her 16th birthday. Spoiler Alert: I wasn't.
Finally when high school came along, I saw the minor improvement of having some form of health specialist come in. This was totally ruined by the fact that it was a 3 day course where I and 200 other females were uncomfortably shoved into an auditorium at 9 in the morning. Yet again, it was abstinence based. If you wanted to ask a question you were forced to do so in front of a room of peers and strangers. Additionally, no assessments were given to analyze the effectiveness of the course. If Bojangles can ask me at the bottom of the receipt how much I enjoyed my “bo-time,” then my school should have had the sense to ask me how I enjoyed my sex education experience. No one ever did. Aside from sex education, surveying the effectiveness of a program should be necessary after any funded project. This is how we learn what we are doing wrong, and this is how we would have learned that students want a more comprehensive, qualified, and comfortable experience.
Currently, legislation has failed to make sex education a medically accurate and comprehensive experience. But I for one, do not even understand why we aren't already enforcing accuracy. Sex education is a class and a lesson just like anything else you learn in school. So let’s think about what this would be like translated into other curriculum…..
If this were a math class, imagine the uproar we would receive if parents found out that you were teaching their kids that adding numbers was the same thing as multiplying them. Actually, imagine if they told your kid that there were only 100 possible numbers. I’m sure you’d want something more comprehensive. Additionally, if you suck at math there are tutors you can see for one-on-one time because you have such a large class size and asking individualized questions is difficult. But not in this math class. In this math class, if you do not understand the information you get no personalized time slot. You have one chance to learn the material and if you fail to do so, that’s it.
So in response to my sub-par experience with sex education, I encourage all of us to lobby for change and to lobby for H.3447. Let’s stop putting sex education at the bottom of our priority list. Because the second a fast food company knows more about my feelings than my health educator...then Houston, we have a problem.