37 Things People Wish They’d Learned In Sex Ed



sexedweek

Health

“That so much is arbitrary, and the only thing that matters is
that everyone involved is excited to be doing it.”

Posted on April 17, 2017, 13:01 GMT

We
asked the BuzzFeed Community
to tell us what they were taught in sex ed — and what they
really wish they’d learned.

South Park Digital Studios LLC / Via giphy.com

We heard from people around the United States and all
over the world who got their sex education in different
kinds of settings: public, private, religious, secular,
and homeschooled. Here’s what they think their sex ed
missed.

1. “That my body wasn’t for anyone
else’s use.”

@radicalbuttons / Via instagram.com

“RAPE. CONSENT. I can’t stress it enough — why aren’t
these words in the curriculum virtually anywhere? There
have been many instances looking back that I could have
used an authoritative figure telling me that it’s okay to
say no. Six years of an abusive relationship that
probably wouldn’t have happened had it been made more
clear that my body wasn’t for anyone else’s use. We need
to expand our horizons here.”

—Aisha, 24, Canada

2. “That orgasms were natural and not
something to feel guilty about.”

“That orgasms were natural and not something to feel guilty
about, and that a lot of positive things come from sex. Sure,
you can have an unplanned pregnancy or STIs, but consensual
sex with a partner you love is a bonding experience.

I also could have decreased my stress by orgasming more. They
also didn’t teach us that orgasming often reduces the risk of diseases like prostate
cancer. I think in general, that in America, sex is so
taboo that we don’t talk about the positive aspects as long
as you use protection.”

—Anonymous, US (Massachusetts)

3. “Sex is not something
disgraceful.”

“Sex is not something disgraceful. If it were, marriage
shouldn’t make it suddenly okay.”

—Akash, United Arab Emirates

4. “Literally anything about sex for
LGBTQ+ people — or, indeed, the existence of LGBTQ+ people at
all.”

@junebuganddarlin / Via instagram.com

“Literally anything about sex for LGBTQ+ people
— or, indeed, the existence of LGBTQ+ people at all.
We also never discussed use of safe sex techniques for
nonpenetrative sex (i.e., dental dams), different types
of body parts, or the importance of consent and what that
even was.”

—Tal, 24, Canada

5. “How utterly okay and normal it is
to explore your own body.”

“I wish they spoke more about masturbation. Being a teenager
was the first time you were exploring your own body, and
teenagers are already insecure enough. I just wish there was
more focus on how utterly okay and normal it is to explore
your own body.”

—Caitlin, 23, Australia

6. “STIs are real, treatable, and
preventable.”

“STIs are real, treatable, and preventable. Use protection
while having sex and don’t let a boy/man pressure you into
allowing him to not wear a condom. Worry about yourself and
your health. Not a man’s ego.”

—Anonymous, 26, US

7. “Nonpenetrative sex is not just
foreplay.”

@pleasurepie / Via instagram.com

“Nonpenetrative sex is not just foreplay. Everything with
homosexual sex — it was in books but never a topic for
more learning. How to get women off. I learned about
orgasms but never that I could get one or how. I learned
to get a guy off but not myself, and that is so wrong.”

—Erika, 28, Sweden

8. “Porn sex isn’t real.”

“Porn sex isn’t real. The actors aren’t wearing condoms for
aesthetic purposes, not because condoms aren’t important to
wear. You also shouldn’t expect your partner to mimic scenes
from porn for you.

Sex can be pleasurable for women. It’s not just something you
do for a guy as a favor. Getting to know your body (via
masturbation and/or getting a mirror and having a look at
what’s down there) is such an empowering thing. It will give
you the confidence to tell your partner what you like and
result in better, more pleasurable sex.”

—Samantha, 22, Australia

9. “That STIs could be passed through
oral sex.”

“I don’t think we ever learned about oral sex. I didn’t even
know what it was (or that it existed) or that STIs could be
passed through oral sex. Yikes! I don’t remember learning
about birth control or how to properly use a condom either.”

—Laura, 22, US (Wisconsin)

10. “The Pill is NOT the only method out
there.”

@bedsider / Via instagram.com

“There are 15 methods of contraception. The Pill is NOT
the only method out there and EVERY woman should decide
what they want from their contraception and then decide
which method is best for them. Educate yourself before
going straight for the Pill. I cannot stress this enough
to young women/teenage girls who are beginning/continuing
contraception.”

—Olivia, 23, UK

11. “None of us really understood what
actually led to being pregnant.”

“Birth control was never mentioned. None of us really
understood what actually led to being pregnant. We had girls
wondering if oral or anal sex would result in a pregnancy.
The entire talk was basically trying to scare us into
abstinence.

Nothing about consent or safety was ever mentioned. Boys were
expected to be horny and pushy, while girls had to be
responsible for saying no and maintaining their virginal
reputation. We never got to ask questions.”

—Kelsey, 22, US (Indiana)

12. “I had a gay friend who didn’t know
you could get STIs during intercourse with someone of the
same sex.”

“I’m a bisexual woman who didn’t even know what a dental dam
was until my first sexual experience with another woman. I
had a gay friend who didn’t know you could get STIs during
intercourse with someone of the same sex.

—Anonymous, 15, US (Michigan)

13. “It’s okay and normal to not be
sexual or to be celibate.”

@ladynobrow / Via instagram.com

“It’s okay and normal to not be sexual or to be celibate
or whatever. We were given this idea that once we get
older, we’d just be having tons of sex and we MUST have
sex in any romantic relationship. Because apparently a
sexless romance is weird. But it’s not. We don’t have to
succumb to the casual-hookup culture. It’s okay to be
old-fashioned.”

—Anonymous, Netherlands

14. “That fetishes are okay.”

“That fetishes are okay, and how to use other contraceptives
other than the male condom (e.g., the female condom — I still
have no idea how that works. Also IUDs and implants). Various
abortion procedures — how do they work, what are our options,
how do we access it.”

—Caitlin, 22, Australia

15. “More about sexual health beyond
STIs.”

“More about sexual health beyond STIs. Like for girls,
getting nonsexual infections and the signs and symptoms of
yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. For guys, stuff
about penis health, like erectile dysfunction or signs that
there’s something wrong.

I think for both genders, more encouragement that you should
go to a doctor whenever you feel something is not right, and
what is usually outside of the norm. Also, I think we should
be taught signs of cancer in sexual organs for all genders,
as it can happen at any age.”

—Anonymous, 24, United Kingdom

16. “That severe pain during your period
or any other time of the month is not normal.”

@thecsph / Via instagram.com

“I think everyone needs to be educated on different forms
of birth control and how they affect your body. I wish I
had also been educated that severe pain during your
period or any other time of the month is not normal and
that there are so many hormonal problems that people can
experience.”

—Bronwyn, 25, US (Washington)

17. “It’s normal to like girls or guys
or no one or everyone!”

“That it’s not always a guy and a girl! I went to an
all-girls school where, out of a class of 16, seven turned
out to be LGBT+. It would’ve been nice to have some context —
to be told it’s normal to like girls or guys or no one or
everyone!”

—Helen, 20, United Kingdom

18. “The nurse never showed us how to
insert a tampon.”

“The nurse never showed us how to insert a tampon. She only
quickly explained how it works, which kind of sucked for my
13-year-old innocent self who only figured out a decade later
that it wasn’t gonna ‘break” my hymen or rid me of my
virginity. She also never told us about what people ACTUALLY
do during sex. It sounded like there would only be a painful
penetration, and then if you were smart about it, no babies
or STIs would come out of it.

A lot of teenagers back then used to think that going down on
a girl was disgusting and shameful for the guy who performed
it.”

—Lely, 22, Canada

19. “Because I had no idea what a vagina
looked like other than a doll-like illustration, I thought my
genitals were malformed.”

@lovelylittleadventures / Via instagram.com

“I had no idea where pee came out of until I was 18 and
my high school-aged sister drew a diagram. Her diagram
was incorrect, and I didn’t learn where my urethra was
until I was 19 and a sophomore in college.

As a preteen, I didn’t know women grew pubic hair because
the diagrams were always bare. Because I had no idea what
a vagina looked like other than a doll-like illustration,
I thought my genitals were malformed, and I was terrified
to go to my first gynecologist appointment.

I didn’t know what an erection was until my goofy brother
made a dirty joke when I was 17. He was horrified that he
had to teach me male anatomy in order for me to
understand the joke.”

—Samantha, 25, US (Iowa)

20. “I had no idea there was even
thrusting involved until I was well into my teens.”

“I was so clueless and didn’t date much in high school, so I
had no idea there was even thrusting involved until I was
well into my teens. I didn’t know what foreplay was. I didn’t
know about female masturbation. I honestly didn’t really know
what a real-life penis even looked like. I didn’t know about
positions. I didn’t know about lubrication. There was just so
much I didn’t know.

I read about sex education in other countries — and even just
in other states, more recently — that teaches about how to
pleasure a partner and yourself. I had no idea people even
taught that! All my sex ed just seemed so anti-sex, and it
made it so I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I
also think it’s important to teach about sex that doesn’t
involve a cis man and cis woman, because I for sure never
learned anything about that either.”

—Cassie, 22, US (Illinois)

21. “I’m 40 and I still feel like I’m
decades behind my peers sometimes.”

“The role of sex in relationships and pleasure. I had lots of
‘sex ed’ per se outside of the classroom — it was the South,
so there was lots of churchy sex ed of the abstinence kind. I
think this did me (and many others) a huge disservice in
terms of our maturation and thinking about sex. I’m 40 and I
still feel like I’m decades behind my peers sometimes because
of what I bought into for so long.”

—Anonymous, 40, US (Georgia)

22. “To know what to do if we or a
partner become(s) pregnant.”

http://@sweet.street.cookies.ntreats / Via instagram.com

“We didn’t learn anything about options if we or a
partner becomes pregnant (who to go to, how to use a
pregnancy test, etc.). I think it’s really important for
people, especially teenagers, to know what to do if we or
a partner become(s) pregnant because it can be very scary
and overwhelming. Knowing how to handle teen pregnancy
may help the health of the mother, father, and baby.”

—Emily, 16, US (Pennsylvania)

23. “The understanding and confidence to
say no and mean it.”

“At 16, my boyfriend took advantage of me against my will and
made me believe it was his right to do so because I had led
him on. I didn’t realize until years later that this was not
okay. But if I had been taught about sexual consent at school
I believe I would have had the understanding and confidence
to say no and mean it.”

—Anonymous, 24, New Zealand

24. “It’s okay to be nervous during sex
no matter how many times you’ve done it.”

“I think it’s important to know that it’s okay to be nervous
during sex no matter how many times you’ve done it. I’m 23
and I still struggle with being intimate even with someone I
love. Years of being disgusted with my body has made it very
hard to get out of my head. Sex isn’t going to be like the
movies, and that is fine.”

—Anonymous, 23, US (Washington),

25. “Get tested after every
partner.”

“GET TESTED AFTER EVERY PARTNER FOR STIs. I had chlamydia for
a year without symptoms and had no idea.”

—Amy, 21, US (Michigan)

26. “Sex-toy safety.”

@the_stitchess / Via instagram.com

“We didn’t learn about taking precautions with
non-intercourse-specific sexual contact. We didn’t learn
about how many common sexual practices contribute
directly to UTIs and how to avoid them. We didn’t learn
enough about anything outside of standard cisgender,
heterosexual relationships and identities.

We didn’t learn about sex-toy safety and how many of
those things are made from downright dangerous materials,
and how to make body-safe choices. There was not a
thorough explanation of the necessity of consent and what
that means, and what conversations about that should look
like. We didn’t learn how to identify abusive
relationships and seek help. I could keep going, but
there is so much that we didn’t learn that we should
have.”

—Kai, 29, US (California)

27. “Marital rape.”

“Sex is still seen as a taboo in our country and we weren’t
told what to do or how to do it. Some students were only just
learning that sex was an act that existed. STIs are really
important to know about as well as consent, marital rape (a
common phenomenon here), birth control, safe sex,
masturbation, etc. All of these are topics that should’ve
been covered but weren’t.”

—Maahirah, Pakistan

28. “That boys can be pressured into sex
as much as girls could.”

“No one discussed abortion, detailed information on
contraception, or consent. Technically we were told, ‘Don’t
let anyone pressure you into sex,’ but no one ever said
anything about date-rape drugs, what constitutes sexual
assault, or the fact that boys can be pressured into sex as
much as girls could.

I’m not complaining about the detailed anatomy lessons, but
there were definitely some sizable gaps. I was one of the
lucky ones. My mother covered a lot of the information that
the school missed. Others were not so lucky.”

—Becky, 34, US (Pennsylvania)

29. “They never focused on the pleasure,
but rather talked about the pain sex could cause.”

@thecsph / Via instagram.com

“They perpetuated myths and used scare tactics to stop
people from having sex with church-funded educational
lecturers. The myths of the emotional consequences were
unfounded in psychology and overexaggerated.

They never focused on the pleasure, but rather talked
about the pain sex could cause, especially in the
girls-only sessions.”

—Tilly, 17, US (Georgia)

30. “I didn’t know what in the world a
clitoris was.”

“Reflecting on it now, I was taught in a very cut-and-dry
way: Here it is, this is how the world is, this is how we
survive. Nothing about finding pleasure in any part of sex,
at least on the girl’s part. I didn’t know what an orgasm was
until I started reading fanfiction in college. I didn’t know
that women got aroused, let alone that they could have
multiple orgasms in one go. I didn’t know what in the world a
clitoris was.

Sex ed in school taught me almost absolutely nothing and, at
least from the news I’ve read, I still consider myself to
have been educated in one of the more celebrated school
systems in the state.”

—Maggie, 23, US (Maryland)

31. “I didn’t learn about oral sex, anal
sex, or masturbation.”

“I didn’t learn about oral sex, anal sex, or masturbation,
but got a lot of that information from classmates with older
siblings. I’m on the fence whether or not this needs to be
taught in school, because a life event like this is very
personal, and if schools stood up behind it, kids might be
inclined to try something they really wouldn’t like, and that
might cause problems in the future, psychologically.”

—Becky, 31, US

32. “OMG I MUST BE THE ONLY GIRL IN THE
WHOLE SCHOOL THAT LIKES GIRLS.”

@dearsexeducator / Via instagram.com

“I wish they had touched on being gay. I remember
thinking, Wow, I like girls, why aren’t they talking
about that? Am I the only one? OMG I MUST BE THE ONLY
GIRL IN THE WHOLE SCHOOL THAT LIKES GIRLS
.”

—Janet, 39, US (California)

33. “Sex is just kind of like another
body function/activity (kind of like yoga).”

“That it isn’t SUCH A GIGANTIC thing. Growing up, I actually
felt really scared to lose my virginity because I thought it
would be a huge deal, that it would hurt really bad, and that
not being a virgin anymore would be a big deal…which was
not really the case.

Sex is just kind of like another body function/activity (kind
of like yoga — it’s got its perks, sure, but for most
people it’s not the only thing in their day, and for some
people it’s not their thing at all). The first time is
definitely NOT the best time because it is awkward and you
are not as relaxed as later times — but overall, it isn’t a
big deal. There’s not like a magical transformation once you
have sex.

When you do have sex for the first time with someone, just
make sure you can handle the experience emotionally and know
that the other person might feel more emotional or less
emotional than you about having sex with YOU, or just toward
having sex in general (so make sure you are prepared for
that).”

—Erica, US (New York)

34. “That if a male ejaculates inside of
you, it will come back out.”

“In the crudest of truths, no one let me know that if a male
ejaculates inside of you, it will come back out. And man, did
I get a hell of a fright!”

—Ruby, New Zealand

35. “That slut-shaming is wrong.”

@fillefollemagazine / Via instagram.com

“That having sex does not make you a ‘whore’ or ‘slut,’
but rather allows you to experience one of the most
natural relaxation methods in life. Pretty much we should
have learned that ‘slut-shaming’ is wrong.”

—Dalton, 18, US (Nevada)

36. “If you don’t fit into the nice
little checkbox indicating straight, homosexual, or other,
don’t limit yourself by making yourself fit into one of these
boxes.”

“Don’t assume that what you learn in school is the only
information out there. Don’t be afraid to ask questions,
don’t feel like you have to do anything you don’t want to do,
and most of all, be true to yourself. If you don’t fit into
the nice little checkbox indicating straight, homosexual, or
other, don’t limit yourself by making yourself fit into one
of these boxes.

When discovering your sexuality, don’t be afraid to embrace
it, because there are other people out in the world who are
going through the exact same process as you are, and just
remember the quote ‘Those who mind don’t matter, and those
who matter don’t mind.'”

—Margaret, 20, US (Florida)

37. “That so much is arbitrary, and the
only thing that matters is that everyone involved is excited
to be doing it.”

“Consent and communication! We learned nothing about pleasure
or how to navigate any of it. I left sex ed knowing as little
as I entered, save the STI stuff. I gained most of my
expectations from porn.

I wish I’d learned not to tolerate anyone expecting anything
from me sexually. I wish I’d learned about all the sorts of
stuff that can be sex that don’t involve vaginal penetration.
I wish I learned that so much is arbitrary, and the only
thing that matters is that everyone involved is excited to be
doing it.”

—Emily, 32, US (New York)

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

What do you wish your sex
ed class had taught? Let us know in the comments!

Lixia Guo / BuzzFeed News



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