Monday, December 28, 2015

Why Middle-Schoolers Need Real Sex Ed, Part Two

    My friend Cassandra was complaining, during the last few minutes of orchestra, about some of the health lessons. She began in a slow, measured fashion. “Apparently,” she stated thoughtfully, “the only way teens can be even slightly intimate,” another pause, “is to hold hands.”
    “Are they showing you that list of ‘appropriate ways for teens to show affection’?” I asked disgustedly. I got it last year. The teacher made a big deal of pointing out that kissing wasn’t on the list.
    “Yes,” she groaned. “It’s all ‘hold hands’ -”
    “And ‘give small gifts’,” I agreed.
    I don’t remember the whole thing. That’s pretty much it. It’s basically a very brief list of nauseating ways to show affection - and, as Cassandra noted, nothing even remotely sexual.
    “Apparently if you kiss someone,” she griped, “they will automatically get HIV. Like, if you have the tiniest cut on your lip, and you kiss someone, they will die.”
    Okay. All the lessons about STD's and teen pregnancies they blabber on about for weeks is probably enough to scare whatever tiny minority may actually have considered randomly having sex in middle school - and if it’s not, nothing will except physical restraint and/or threat of death. But kissing? I’m pretty sure kissing is considered an acceptable practice.
    By the students.
    But as long as it’s a fairly, er, straightforward kiss, and not done in the middle of math class or whatever, seriously, what is the deal? It’s reasonable for teachers to warn us about the dangers of having sex, even if their methods are somewhat questionable. But kissing?
    No one will take them seriously if they tell us all the terrible stuff that can happen if you kiss someone. That’s like a terrorist threatening to bomb America if we don’t give them, let’s say, cloning technology, pay them fifteen billion dollars, and, oh yeah, change the national anthem to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It would make the small amount of rational advice they give us look less rational because we’d take them less seriously.
     If a man proposes to his girlfriend, can you imagine her gasping, and smiling, and then holding his hand? That sounds like a commercial: Wait! Don't kiss her! You may or may not have a minuscule cut on your lip that will give your beloved HIV if you kiss her! [Cartoon creature hands baffled-looking man box of chocolates.] Remember, if you kiss someone, you may get them sick! Use healthy ways to show affection so you don't give your Significant Other a cold, such as holding hands or giving small gifts! [Flies away wearing superhero cape.]
    Not to mention, but…what about when we’re married? Do marriage vows somehow neutralize whatever viruses may be swimming around in one’s blood? Or are they just telling us to never have sex?
    Hate to break it to you, health teachers, but we all exist because someone had sex. So do you. If no one ever has sex anymore, there will be no next generation to suffer whatever twisted TV shows this one dreams up.
    And, as we exist, it is a pretty safe conclusion that our parents have had sex. And haven’t we all seen our parents kiss each other at times? Are we going to take them seriously if our own parents (who, in my humble opinion, are far more trustworthy than most health teachers), are regularly contradicting their example? If our own existence contradicts their example?
    What about birth control? Are they going to teach us about that? If they do, they’ll be sending mixed messages - would they be promoting asexuality, or safe sex? Yet wouldn’t it be good to learn about - for the people (there are bound to be some) who won’t listen to the don't have sex lesson?
    Additionally, I really don't think there are a lot of people who would actually have sex in middle school. My friends like to talk about it (far more than I like to hear about it), but I don't think any of them are stupid enough to just go out and do it, at least not without any sort of birth control. And whatever they're going to teach us, they don't need to teach us repeatedly. Either one will listen or one won't. Lecturing us about the number of diseases one can get three years in a row will just bore us. If it's going to make an impact on anyone, it will have already. For those who didn't get the message the first time we spent two weeks studying STD's, there will be no understanding, or just no care.
    In short: Health teachers, don't teach us about STD's again. Save your breath. Or better yet, teach us stuff we don't already know, or at least stuff that has a better than thirty percent chance of actually making an impact on us.


  1. Love reading your blog and I agree that teachers should teach real sex ed. For the record, I taught in a school where a number of middle school students had had sex as confirmed by pregnancy scares or actual pregnancies. That being said I was fairly candid with those students in the hopes they would make educated decisions, though I don't know if hormones get in the way of that regardless of their best intentions.