Sext Ed

Friday, January 27, 2012

By Priscilla Hoang

Priscilla is a high school student and an intern with ACRJ’s youth organizing program.

While many schools are mandated to have classes or programs to educate our youth on sex, bodies, relationships, and communication, the truth is, sex ed classes don’t work for everyone. Perhaps the awkward glances, graphic visuals, and the fact that you’re talking about an intimate subject with your peers prevent you from feeling comfortable.

Maybe it was the abstinence only curriculum that didn’t have information that pertained to you. I definitely remember sitting on the grubby gym floor in middle school with about a hundred other girls while a complete stranger started yapping about periods and breast exams. Around me, I heard choruses of “Who cares?” When the floor opened for Q&A, the gym was in complete silence.

A lot of teenagers lack resources that are knowledgeable and trustworthy about sex education. It’s a time of confusion: what boundaries they are willing to push and what risks they want to take. With sex being prevalent and glorified in the media, it’s unfortunate that more accurate information isn’t being circulated. Many teens experience embarrassment or shame asking their teachers, parents, or school nurses whenever any questions come up about sex.  

As a young person of color, I have noticed the inadequacies of sex education around me. I constantly hear, although well-intentioned, blatantly misguided information being discussed by my peers. I myself have had the opportunity to take a course on Human Sexuality at a Laney College so I actually feel very confident in my knowledge about sex. But that’s not the case for everyone. Not everyone has the resources to take a college class, or would even be interested in taking the time.

For our technologically addicted generation who simply cannot activate the courage to raise their hands in class, there’s a radically new alternative. In Colorado, a text-chat program run by Planned Parenthood (In Case You’re Curious, or ICYC) allows youth to discreetly text questions about sex and get accurate information sent directly to their phones. I think this is a fabulous opportunity for youth to get their questions answered because a) they don’t have to feel embarrassed asking a question in front of their peers, b) they can be confident that the information they get is up to date, and c) the program has a broad outlook and includes issues that may have been left out in the past.
And why shouldn’t we encourage growth of this program? It’s at no cost to schools and highly accessible to a range of people, from middle schoolers (and their fancy smartphones!) to teenagers and young adults.

This is a great tool and resource to help guide my peers and I to grow, educate, and make healthy decisions in the future. Although I am in support of this program, I hope that we soon we will be able to have real conversations with each other, shame-free.

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