By: A Philadelphia High School Student
All my life I’ve grown up in an African American, Christian household. My parents are the two people I can talk to about almost anything. I feel comfortable enough to ask them questions on race, religion and a lot of other serious topics. Yet my parents never spoke a word about sex to me. I never received a “birds and the bees” talk when I was little. I was never told how babies were made. We never had a conversation on the importance of using protection. I’m glad that I’m now knowledgeable of all of these topics but it took years to gain the knowledge that some of my friends had earned in minutes. My parents chose not to discuss sexual education with me, leaving me confused and oblivious when the topic was brought up in conversations.
We live in an age where the entire history and knowledge of the planet is placed in our pockets through the internet. As a young, curious kid I had questions, most of which I had no answer for. The internet provided me with explanations for the terms I heard from friends. While I don’t recommend using Urban Dictionary to explain sex to kids, it did give me an insight to how things worked. A silly term my friends would say would lead into a deep and immersive trip to Google. Throughout my middle school experience I could recount multiples times that I’d educate myself through a quick Google search. Human anatomy confused me, and I still didn’t know where babies came from. The internet provided me with explanations for many of my sex related questions, questions that I didn’t think my parents wanted to talk about.
Eventually I was nearing the end of my middle school experience. I had a basic understanding of many things now. Many of my sex related questions had been answered by the internet and (for the time being) I was content. 8th grade rolled around and I expected another year of basic health class; little did I know that it would be the most eye opening and informative health class in all my years of schooling. Health classes previously focused on eating right, exercise, puberty etc. 8th grade health was completely devoted to sex-ed. Throughout the next 8 months all of my questions had been answered and questions I wanted answers to emerged as well. Safe sex, STD’s, reproduction, healthy relationships and more, 8th grade health was nothing short of a miracle. I finally was at a point where I felt informed on the topic of sex and its intricacies.
Middle school ended on a high note and I had high hopes for my freshman year. I was a sex expert, I had passed middle school health and I thought that 9th grade health would be a repeat of last year. I was very surprised to learn that I wasn’t all knowledgeable about sexual health. The first month of freshman year every student peed in a cup and returned it to get tested for STD’s. Some of my friends’ results came back positive and I was once again feeling confused and intrigued. The idea that people in my grade were having sex originally scared me. I thought only adults had sexual contact, all depictions in my health textbooks were adults. That year I dove into high school, a place where sex was a constant topic of discussion and relationships were the norm. It took a while to adjust to the sudden storm of sex that is forced onto you, but I managed.
My parents never talked to me about sexual health. For a long time I relied on the internet to answer my questions; health class was my salvation. A conversation with my parents was desperately needed. I hated the awkward air the whole situation created and it ruined the whole “I can talk to my parents about anything” streak. Sexual education is important to teach at a young age. Preparing children early can make things a lot easier in the future. Talking about sex is never easy but it’s an important part of growing up and it’s a necessity if you want to engage in sexual activity.