My sex ed in South Carolina’s public schools started in 4th grade. It was actually rather informative, because the nurses gave it. They spoke frankly and honestly of periods, the inner portion of the vulva (which they unfortunately called vagina), and outer changes that would happen to our bodies. We also watched a video that, looking back, was about sexual harassment, but was unclear at the time.
By: Star Henderson
You might remember Star from our Columbia forum as the high school student who asked the first question in the audience. Star is a senior at Dutch Fork high school, majoring in World Language and Visual Arts, and has been accepted into Midlands Technical College. She gets involved in any programs that promote equality and that are blind to birth-based characteristics, such as sex, age, race, and economic standing.
Star saw our "SC's Sex Ed Problem" billboards, researched us online, and decided to join us at the forum because of the problems she saw in her own school. Below, she shares her own school-based sex ed experience.
My sex ed in South Carolina’s public schools started in 4th grade. It was actually rather informative, because the nurses gave it. They spoke frankly and honestly of periods, the inner portion of the vulva (which they unfortunately called vagina), and outer changes that would happen to our bodies. We also watched a video that, looking back, was about sexual harassment, but was unclear at the time
In 5th grade we learned the same thing over with no more details about our bodies, and outer changes of the opposite were discussed, but now diagrams of our own sexual organs were given.
In 6th grade, which had its own school, STI’s (called STD’s at the time) were added to the curriculum, and highly emphasized upon. Abstinence was pushed heavily. The classes were mixed sex until it we hit the anatomy, in which case the sexes were separated and we, again, not shown a diagram of the opposing sex’s anatomy.
In middle school we were given sex ed by the PE teachers, 7th and 8th grade and sexes being mixed. It was with the over-all “health” curriculum, and only a minor part. We were shown a corny group-discussion video that included masturbation, diagrams of both sexes (with the female organ still called a vagina), circumcision (but not any of the pros or cons, just that religions did it and how it was done), STI’s (still STD’s), and the inner and outer changes that would happen in both sexes. I think they mentioned sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, but in a very vague and suggestive manner.
My last mandatory sex ed class was in 9th grade, with “freshman success.” We have a very chill and cool teacher for most of it, when we covered things like “what is intimate touching?” He pointed out that most slang for sex is violence against women and also portrayed in a sexist manner. The anatomy was covered by an awkward female teacher, whom I think taught English, and she assumed we all knew about the anatomy by now. She showed us a diagram of the inner vulva (which she called a vagina), a picture of a penis, and a slideshow about STI’s (STD’s once more). It was filled with graphic pictures of the ailments, and the only example of a penis was infected.
Contraception, abortion, gender and sexuality have only ever been addressed in my Child Development class – which, mind you, is not required, and they were not thoroughly covered. As a result of this inferior sexual education, the people who don’t educate themselves on our sexual anatomy, function, and development, are highly misinformed and aware of little to none of how this section of the human body works. Despite the idea that abstinence discourages teenagers from having sex, I know of many middle school students who are sexually active and most likely not using any contraception, as it is frowned upon.