Tumblr article: How sex education was taught in my school

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Tequila
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23 Feb 2013, 10:47 am

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How Sex Education Was Taught In My School
  • - An anonymous volunteer shares her experiences of sex education in an all-girls Roman Catholic school.
I attended an all-girls Roman Catholic comprehensive; after I left it gained academy. Due to the religious ethos that guided my school, sex education was extremely biased. We were taught about the nuclear hetero family in Religious Education, and told this was the valid unit. Through the guise of debate we discussed abortion, sex outside of marriage and homosexuality but of course the lesson began and ended with the churches line on the topic and the teacher would always side with that house. Our RE GCSEs which were compulsory were on the same topics; to gain marks you would have to answer on homosexuality with “the church is against homosexuality because it says so in the Bible.” Not exactly mind expanding or questioning stuff.

The absolute lowest point of my “sex education” was when we were made to watch a piece of Catholic propaganda on abortion in Year 8. We were 13. The video talked heavily on the emotion trauma that follows an abortion and of course only featured young women, not women who choose to abort a foetus while married or women who already had children. Selfishness and cruelty were the two themes. We saw many images of an aborted foetus covered in blood. It was unnecessary and clearly propaganda.

When we had formal sex education it was conducted outside of school with NHS staff. The day mainly consisted relationship talks, and why it’s best to wait until you are in a stable and loving relationship. Abortion was not once mentioned, either as good or bad, just never uttered. Only when the teacher left the room were we told about condoms. When local nurses came into 6th form for chlamydia talk (as it is a STI prevalent amongst young people in the North East and has lasting effects on women) we were not allowed to be given the testing kits that other schools were given and instead were advised to go to the clinic in the centre of town.



mds_02
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23 Feb 2013, 3:32 pm

I attended catholic schools. That pretty much exactly matches the sex education we got. Birth control was a taboo subject. Out of my class of less than a hundred students, 8 girls had gotten pregnant by graduation. Almost 1 in 5. I don't know how many of the boys had gotten someone outside of the school pregnant, but I'm guessing there were at least a few.

It's not that I think teenagers need to be told what condoms are for and how they work. But not talking about it can prevent them from realizing how important they are.



NewDawn
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23 Feb 2013, 4:13 pm

mds_02 wrote:
It's not that I think teenagers need to be told what condoms are for and how they work. But not talking about it can prevent them from realizing how important they are.


Effective sex education involves more than just the technicalities of contraceptives. Sex is about relationships. A confusing subject for teens (and even for adults), and stigmatizing their feelings (whatever they are) will only make the confusion worse. For that reason, relationships are emphasized in Dutch sex education. Girls may know about condoms, but what if the boy refuses to use them? Such questions are standard in Dutch sex ed. It's also important to provide a framework that guarantees absolute anonymity where they can get these contraceptives.

It really breaks my heart that those religions that are so vehemently 'pro-life' seem to do everything they can to make it next to impossible to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Sex is a normal part of life, and it begins when puberty begins. By acknowledging that and not be jugdemental about it, an enormous amount of unnecessary suffering can be prevented.



The_Walrus
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23 Feb 2013, 6:02 pm

"Our RE GCSEs which were compulsory were on the same topics; to gain marks you would have to answer on homosexuality with “the church is against homosexuality because it says so in the Bible.” Not exactly mind expanding or questioning stuff. "

This isn't exclusive to Catholic schools. GCSEs involve regurgitating the views of others ahead of using your own views. They aren't intended to "expand minds", except for the subjects that are scoffed at like Citizenship and the dreadful "How Science Works" section of the science GCSEs. However, in RE GCSEs you are given marks for expressing your own views, and supporting them- just not as many as you get for showing that you know one faith thinks this and another faith thinks that.