By Yvonne Tran
Where did I learn about sex? I learned about sex on television. We all know how accurately television portrays desire and sex and how often that becomes our molding for our own desires.
And what happened when I started to engage in sexual behavior (AKA having sex) in high school? Lots of awkwardness, misinformation, close calls and silence.
What if I had the opportunity to attend a workshop about sexually transmitted infections (STI's)? Or how to correctly use condoms? How sexuality plays out in queer relationships? What if I had learned how what consent really means? All of that would have helped me on my own journey around my sexuality and navigating relationships.
Fast-forward 10 years. I am sitting at my second California Sexuality Education Roundtable at the ACLU of Northern California's office in San Francisco. I am surrounded by educators, researchers, school administrators, and others who work to support Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in our schools.
The conversations range from overcoming the barriers to getting public funding for schools and nonprofits to deliver CSE trainings, to excitement around innovative projects. One program highlighted is in LAUSD where they use multiple approaches at the same time: Sex Ed in the classroom, parent support groups, and clinical support on site for students. The program really inspired me and showed how far we have come from abstinence-only education (which is what I received now that I think about it) to a truly comprehensive sexuality education.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education is actually mandated by California law passed in 2003 with great help from lots of our allies. SB71 requires school districts to:
1) Provide a pupil with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect his or her sexual and reproductive health from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases;
2) Encourage a pupil to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender roles, sexual orientation, dating, marriage, and family.
Even though this relatively progressive law passed almost 6 years ago, many school districts are not complying. The people in this room are working hard to ensure that all youth in CA can truly learn and feel empowered by their bodies and sexuality.
Imagine a classroom, a school, in which we all learned the things we needed to learn to counteract the damages that mainstream media has caused our consciousness around our bodies and sex. Imagine this place where we, as youth, are taught to appreciate and love our bodies and embrace all sexualities and genders. A place where consent is part of every relationship discussion.
This is the place that the California Sex Ed Roundtable is trying to get us.