One of the greatest, scariest, most unforgiving traps in education is discussing student questions regarding this topic. Strangely enough, while we don’t really allow parents to opt their children out of learning math or science (unless you live in Texas and evolution is being taught), parents tend to opt their children out of learning what is in lower grades, euphemistically called “Family Life.” Later, in our district, it’s called “Draw the Line” and other such, let’s not talk about s-e-x education.
Now I’m all for parent rights and such, when they are exercised with intelligence and, well, actually exercised. However, when your child sees more rated R movies in a month than I’ve seen in the last 5 years, we need to talk about priorities. I’m guessing your child has some information about s-e-x, probably all wrong and warped. Furthermore, I don’t see this as exercising one’s religion. If you’re going to tell me that your God doesn’t want anyone having s-e-x, I’m going to wonder aloud (and sarcastically) how you managed to be born or have children. I might even add that it seems your branch of religion would have died out by now. More so, I’ll want to use the information your child provided for me, which is that he/she was born when you were 14. Please, don’t make me be sphincter muscle.
As such, as a teacher of young adults (tweens, if you will), I get questions about s-e-x all the time. Putting my credential on the line right here in front of the state of California, possibly my principal, parents, students, and random taxpayers, I’m going to admit, I not only ANSWER them, I expound on them. GASP! Grab your pitchforks and come on down!
If you truly want children to put off having any kind of s-e-x until later in life, you’ve gotta start by being honest with them. I’m honest (probably to a fault), truthful, and to the point. I make sure they understand COMPLETELY how babies are made. Yes, you’d THINK they’d know this. But really, they aren’t that sure. They don’t get that young sperm is exactly like a Jack Russell Terrier, “Get the egg! C’mon, get the egg. Penetrate it. Make a baby!” It has ONE GOAL ONLY. Truthfully kids need to know that even naked humping can get them there. They think the “boy’s thing-y” (the word penis makes them AMAZINGLY uncomfortable) has to be inserted for fertilization to occur. They don’t realize that all the other myths are, at best, damned good luck, not birth control. They really don’t believe that girls can get pregnant THE FIRST TIME. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what they don’t know or have twisted in their little minds.
Just to give you an idea of what kids are asking about, here are just a couple of my favorite questions/comments about s-e-x. You decide if they had the full 411.
#1 E, hyperactive, 6th grader my first year teaching.
“Ms. Wynn, Ms. Wynn! What happens when you have sex with an animal?”
“Well, E, I assume you annoy the animal.”
“No, no. Really? What happens when you have sex with an animal?”
“No, really! I think you just annoy the animal. Why?”
“You see this picture? It shows a person with a dog head. Can that happen?”
“No. Human DNA can’t combine with animal DNA to create half-human/half-animals. These are mythological creatures.”
“You should talk to your science teacher about this.”
“Oh, I tried. She just kicked me out of class.”
My next favorite was from some boy who fancied himself as a “lover.” He and his friends talked in what I can only call “ya-ya”. Everything had some sort of y-sound attached to it.
“Well, you know it’s OK to be gettin’ down with the honeys ’cause you’re gonna use some sort of protection. Y’kna what I’m sayin’. Like a rubber or whatever.”
“Dude, look at your paper.”
“Is your name on it? Did you answer #1 correctly?”
“Ah, no dawg, but I don’t get why you’re askin’.”
“Condoms — that’s the real name for them — come with both directions and expiration dates. If you don’t follow the directions then the effectiveness falls from 97% to God-only-knows-what. You can’t even follow the directions on a WORKSHEET, dude.”
The final was from some girls asking about clothing and nether regions.
“You know how you have to start wearing different underwear, putting on make-up, and maybe cleaning up down there?”
“Well, you know. When you get a boyfriend you have to change to make him want to be with you.”
“I know that SOME people choose to do that. However, look at me. I’m not at all the thinnest woman with the best body. I’m not the prettiest. You can all attest that I don’t have the more sparkling personality. Yet, I can tell you that my husband is not the first or only man to ever be in love with me or have a crush on me. You don’t have to change to be with someone. In fact, I’m pretty sure that, by now, each one of you has been the object of someone’s crush just by being you.”
My personal opinion of human sexuality is that we start earlier, and we teach people to honor each other. As we fill in with the facts about human reproduction and why waiting is important (health reasons), then I think more people will be willing to wait. However, if you shroud it in mystery, well, then you’re just asking kids to dive in head-first.