What kind of sex education did you receive in the classroom? Was it an awkward slideshow containing more euphemisms than you could possibly comprehend? Or was it a series of lessons covering not only the relevant biology, but also sexuality, gender and reproductive health?
According to the UN, the latter is still quite rare, which means the majority of young people lack the knowledge they need to make informed decisions.
In our recent podcast on the importance of sex education, we heard that young people who received good quality sex and relationship education were less likely to start having sex at a young age, and less likely to become teenage parents.
What was your experience of sex education? We asked readers what kind of lessons they received on the subject. Here’s a selection of responses.
“Sex education was mystic during my younger years. In our place the best word for sex waskufanya tabia mbaya – Swahili words meaning bad manners – and it was rarely spoken about. In school the most sex education I got was in my science and biology class, where we learned about the reproductive system and STIs. The rest you got to learn on your own. The sex education was rather wanting and more should be done to create awareness.” Anonymous, 22, Kenya
“Sex education at my Catholic school was rather limited. Once a pupil asked a question and our teacher said, ‘I am a miss, not a mrs, and therefore I am in no position to answer that question!’ And that was that.” Rose, 30, Scotland
“I think it would be fair to say that no one in that classroom understood what we were being told. There were lots of stories about virtue and chastity, but I think the teacher was afraid to say anything about sex itself, in case we got so excited we’d all start doing it that night.
Sex education lessons in school when I was 12 or 13 were informative and we mostly learned the anatomical differences between boys and girls, since we all knew what happens during and after sex. We also learned about various ways to prevent pregnancy as well as diseases. The way our teacher told us these things was factual. She gave us the feeling that there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”Sabrina, 19, Germany
“I learned a lot about sex and the reproductive system from year seven onward. The teachers were engaged, supportive and more mature in their approach in comparison to the way I was taught in primary school. I guess this had a lot to do with going to a single-sex school for girls.