I was terrified of sex growing up. I knew very little about my own body and talking about sex always came with a negative connotation. It was always taught to be a bad thing.
I went to high school in the late 90s in rural Ohio. At the time, schools in Ohio were not required to have sex ed and if they did, it had to be an abstinence-only curriculum.
Forget training about orientation and identity (which I later learned could have saved many of my classmates some heartache, frustration, and fear) – we were lacking in even the fundamental basics. I didn’t even know how my body worked.
My classmates and I assumed if you have sex, you either get pregnant the first time or you get sick and die – either way you’re going to hell. It didn’t help that there were a lot of pregnant girls at school. See! You really do get pregnant right away!
Shedding Light on What Was Never Talked About
I was a little more fortunate than my classmates because I was an exchange student and spent my junior year in Denmark, a place with very comprehensive sexual education. I was 16 and for the first time heard about masturbation in a positive light. We were always taught back home that it was wrong to touch ourselves. I had never explored my own body. I had an orgasm for the first time in Denmark and at first, it scared me. It was new but I soon enjoyed it. Why didn’t I know about this?
I returned from Denmark armed with knowledge that made me less fearful. Of course, I was more than willing to share this knowledge with my curious and repressed teenage friends in Ohio.
My Path and My Daughter
I lost my virginity at 18 to a person I was serious about. It was his first time as well. It’s a fun memory and I had no regrets.
I’ve also been very fortunate in only getting pregnant when I really wanted to.
If I went to high school now, with my late-30s horniness and experience, I would definitely relax and have a little more fun – maybe fuck the football team.
Would I say that to my daughter? Probably not. But I don’t want my daughter to fear sex either – maybe just have a healthy respect for it. I don’t want her to see it as a bad thing.
In Denmark, there seemed to be this rite-of-passage where a mother takes her daughter to get birth control around her fifteenth birthday. I think that’s a great idea and I plan on doing that with my daughter. I don’t know if she’ll need birth control then, but I’m going to make sure it’s readily available and she knows how to use it.
Sex Ed in Ohio Today
I graduated high school over 20 years ago. So what’s it like for kids in Ohio today? A quick Google search revealed that not much has changed. Sex ed is now required in schools, however, the curriculum is not required to be comprehensive and it must emphasize abstinence.
A little further research showed that now even anti-abortion groups have affected sex ed in Ohio. The curriculum must also emphasize adoption for unintended pregnancies.
The consequences of having a child out of wedlock must also be taught.
Check out Ohio Code Section 3313.6011 for the full list of requirements for sex ed and see why I’m disappointed in my now red state.
I hope my daughter will be more knowledgeable than I was as she works her way through childhood but it’s pretty clear she’s not going to get that from school. It’s up to me.
What was sex ed like in your school? Did you fear sex? Did you see it as a good/bad thing? I’d love to hear your stories.