My school joined the game fairly late when it came to sexual education. It wasn't until we were 18 that our PSE teacher decided we probably ought to know how to protect ourselves against herpes and children, so bought some condoms and bananas from the Spar and set us to work.
But schools in Illinois are even more useless. Until now, teachers have been allowed to offer lessons from the Mean Girls school of sex-ed ("Don't have sex, 'cos you will get pregnant and die"), classes covering both abstinence and safe sex or no sex-ed at all. But that’s all set to change when Governor Pat Quinn passes a new law insisting that schools either teach their students about birth control or avoid teaching sex-ed all together.
The thing is, how much do we really learn in sex-ed? We've all already heard about blowjobs, anal and condoms by the time a qualified adult deigns it appropriate to talk to us about them, and I'm not saying those lessons aren't important, but what's more important is when and how they're handled so that kids actually pick up some useful tips. I wanted to find out how useful sex-ed had been for some strangers who I'll probably never see again, so I asked them all a question: What did you learn from sex-ed?
Maria, 25, administrator: That sex is hilarious.
Do you still find sex funny?
No, but our teacher was really embarrassed about talking to a bunch of 12-year-old girls about it.
What did he do?
He laughed a lot. He had problems taking the lids off his pens and he dropped things everywhere. We made lots of jokes about premature ejaculation in front of him.
That’s really mean.
We were so mean. But he was rubbish.
Do you feel bad now?
Megan, 21, student: Condoms, condoms, condoms.
VICE: Yeah, they’re quite important.
Nicole, 21, student: No, they’re very important.
Megan: Sex-ed feels like it was so long ago. We had sex-ed when we were 12.
That’s pretty young.
We’re American, and they do it pretty young in the States.
No, dummy! Sex-ed!
John, 35, railway worker: This is a wind up, isn’t it?
I learned how to play volleyball naked on the beach.
I think you’re lying.
I’m not! They showed a video of a family playing naked volleyball on the beach.
That’s sex education, isn’t it?
I don’t think so.
It was in 1985.
I’ll take your word for it.
Kim (left) and Cady.
Cady, 25, store manager: Wear protection – always wear protection.
Kim, 24, sales assistant: That’s a very important lesson.
Cady: I remember the videos being really weird.
They were quite graphic.
Kim: Condoms were very important back then.
They’re still important now.
True. We got to learn how to put them on with a banana – the proper way.
Alex, 25, accountant: My sex education classes were no good. I can barely remember anything.
What would have made them better?
Sex education ought to happen in the bedroom, not in the classroom. You learn a lot more about it that way. Everything should be practical.
That might get awkward at school.
It depends how liberal your school is.
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