Sexual (re)education series

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A graphic for the Sexual (Re)education series. Line drawings of bodies and hands touching, as well as cartoons of sex toys, birth control and barrier methods, surround the series title on a teal background. Carillon

What did students have to say about the state of sex ed?

Welcome to the last piece in the Sexual (Re)education series (for this year anyway …).

I want to take this chance to provide some more of the resources I’ve found during my research. And I also want to share some of the comments you’ve been sharing with me about your sex-ed misunderstandings in the Sexual (Re)education survey.

Respondents ranged from the ages of 19-28, and were 71.42% female/femme-identifying, 14.29% male/masculine-identifying, and 14.29% gender-queer/non-conforming. Their sexual orientations were bisexual/pansexual (28.57%), heterosexual (28.57%), lesbian (14.29%), polysexual (14.29%), and queer (14.29%).

Some of these comments are funny, some disturbing, but all should be taken seriously because with proper sexual education all of these misunderstandings could have been avoided. Here’s the grand collection:

  • Until I was 20 I thought the only STI was HIV and you could only get it through penis and vagina contact.
  • I thought periods were going to be this incredible introduction to womanhood because no one told me cramps were a thing and sometimes I get cramps so bad I puke soooo they’re not a great time.
  • I thought swallowing cum could get me pregnant.
  • I always assumed that sex would be a painful experience that did not result in pleasure. My sexual education was based upon the reproductive (system) and how the body works. I fully understood that sex was pleasurable for the man and he could indulge as much as he pleased, but women were only to participate for the objective of procreation. I think this had to do with patriarchal societal standards.
  • I thought it was normal for sex to be over once the guy came, but sex should be about everyone’s pleasure and I can say from experience that the sex I’ve had with women has never ended after just one of us got off.
  • I thought the more sex I had the looser my vagina would get but turns out that’s not how it works at all (also why does no one apply that to dicks? Like there’s no widespread rumor that they get smaller because pushing inside a vagina makes them shrink so why think dicks would legit stretch out someone’s pussy? Weirdos.).
  • I thought all people with penises needed recharge periods after getting off but turns out some don’t.
  • I though anal would be horrible but it’s actually incredible when done right.
  • Everything I know about sex was thanks to my parents or from experience. I have lived in Saskatchewan my whole life and from K-12 I did not receive one safe sex course. The extent of any sexual education I was given was a diagram of a penis and a vagina that we had to label the parts of. That was it. No health classes or information on STIs or anything.
  • I thought it’d be easy to communicate what I want in bed but it’s actually really difficult to communicate what you want in the moment, and no one prepared me for that.
  • I thought guys would be super into using condoms because it seemed obvious to me but I’ve had guys turn me down solely because I said I wasn’t sleeping with them unless we used one.
  • My parents basically just told me about cis-girl puberty and my school taught me how hetero sex worked for reproduction, other than that I was basically just told “don’t do it” and sent on my way to learn from a mix of pornography (which is NOT a good learning source), conversations with friends, and experience.
  • There is so much that was inadequate that even in my late 20s, every once and a while I still discover a new way my education really got it wrong. It still astounds me that I was taught a narrative about some kind of valiant, hero’s sperm journey when sperm are actually pretty weak. Or that I was never taught about sex beyond the male/female binary, completely neglecting intersex experiences and the variety of human sex.

And if you’re looking to fill some of these gaps in your own sex ed, here’s the fun part for all of you who like to do your own research! Here are some of the resources I had recommended to me by Taryn Wahl, the Education Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Regina, and Cat Haines from UR Pride:

The Saskatoon Sexual Health website (http://saskatoonsexualhealth.ca/resources/#healthy-relationships) has a resource page with guides on inclusive language and anti-racist sexual education, as well as resources they’ve put together on STIs, contraceptives, and healthy relationships that can be viewed independently or used as presentation material in group settings. They use non-binary language, have the most recent numbers from Statistics Canada in their reports, use an evidence-based approach, and offer comprehensive sexual education without the use of scare tactics.

Robin Hilton, the Sexual Health Outreach Coordinator at URSU, recently created a Youtube account called Online Sex Ed with URSU (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrfqVOoZAsjkCDCGflHTcfg). So far Hilton has posted videos about physically distanced dating, premature ejaculation, the history of the clitoris, and how savouring pleasure can enhance mental well-being. 

The book The Monsters Under the Bed: Sex, Depression, and the Conversations We Aren’t Having by JoEllen Notte, which looks at how depression can impact a person’s sexual drive and sexual functioning.

Toronto agency The 519 has easily accessible training resources (https://www.the519.org/education-training/training-resources/our-resources) on LGBTQ2S inclusion, LGBTQ2S support and visibility for older adults, safe sex guides for trans women, and information on LGBTQ2S homelessness across Canada.

The Zine Fucking Trans Women #0 by Mira Bellwether, which explains a variety of techniques for pleasuring pre-operation/non-operation trans women including muffing, a way to finger someone with a penis and testicles (yes, cis men too) by using their inguinal canals. The zine includes diagrams illustrated by Bellwether herself on the techniques, as adequate diagrams didn’t exist and she wanted to be as thorough in her instruction as possible.

Holly Worby

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