According to the beliefs of many religions across the world, children and childbirth are considered holy and auspicious. The irony is that even after this regard, the process of bringing them into the world remains a highly ‘hush-hush’ topic. Sex education is vital, especially in young, impressionable minds, where it’s better to educate than letting them learn false information from unrealistic videos.
Do we not apply algebra in our everyday lives? It is instrumental while working on business finances and analysis and bringing up new technology. It is also a must for finding proportions and for general logical thinking. Maybe we don’t use algebra that often, but that does not make it any less critical. Believe it or not, as much as it contradicts the memes, we owe a lot to algebra. The same goes for Sex and Sexuality Education. We might not put in that education to use every day, but it is essential to know about it and gain insight into it.
So, what is Sex and Sexuality Education?
Sex Education is a curriculum-based learning process and teaching about the emotional, cognitive, physical, and social aspects of sex and sexuality. It equips children (especially teenagers and young adults) with appropriate knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that revolve around sex.
Sex education also helps them understand their and their partners’ reproductive health, well-being, and dignity.
In a recent report by UNESCO, it was found out that two out of three girls were not aware of what was happening to them when they were menstruating in some countries. Crimes against women are ever-increasing, and in some backward and conservative areas, the concept of sexuality is still alien.
Sex is a part of life so natural that it happens with or without sex education. However, we can understand that there is much more to it than just making babies when we’re aware and are knowledgeable on the subject. This knowledge can further help the world fight against STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), put an end to innumerable cases of crimes against women, and in being more considerate and respectful romantic partners.
Sex Education Curriculum is as important as Literature!
Remember when most biology teachers skipped the reproduction and sexual health chapters while teaching? For a long time, sex education has not been given the due importance it should be given. Teachers, parents, and other elders refrain themselves and even their kids from talking about sex.
The taboo around this subject has been going on for a while now. But seeing the exponential rise in crimes, people need to understand that sex ed should become a part of the school/college curriculum. It should be taught in a way that kids don’t go looking for answers elsewhere, to misleading sources like pornography, which is a wrong and deceptive portrayal of sexual practices.
As important as it is to normalise conversations about and around sex, educating children about such a fragile and vital topic that sex is a trusted source is as important as any other subject. Sex is a matter of life (excuse the pun :p).
If sex education is introduced in countries, especially the ones which are overpopulating and where there is a lack of awareness, it will be helpful with the following;
1. Safe Sexual Practices
This is probably the most crucial aspect of sex education. Safe sex is when sexual activities are performed with the least risk of spreading STDs such as HIV-AIDS, herpes, syphilis, etc. In the long run, safe sexual practices can help curb out the widespread of such diseases.
Some ways to practice this are using condoms and contraceptives. The plus point is that when people are educated and aware of the adverse effects that STDs can have, they can self-detect any symptoms and start their treatment at the earliest. This can also make them confident and less awkward in discussing this with their partners.
2. Population Control
There are countries where people still want to have a male child in the family even after having a few female children, leading to them having as many children until they finally have a male child. In some African countries like Nigeria, there is no concept of family planning, and now countries are overpopulating themselves, which is a root cause of many problems.
With a bit of sex education and awareness, there can be some degree of family planning which can help in birth control. People can be taught that all life is precious and everyone requires a chance.
While overpopulation being labelled as a problem is highly capitalistic and only applies to the most impoverished families and communities, preventative measures are key until capitalistic overdevelopment is addressed and curbed.
3. Avoiding Teenage Pregnancies
It is not uncommon for teenagers to indulge in sexual activities. Most of the time, these activities are done without taking into account protection. Hence, they result in teenage pregnancies. Sometimes, they realise this when it is too late for an abortion. Such pregnancies can be complicated and life-threatening for the child as well as the underage mother.
4. Inclusivity, Gender and Sexuality Awareness
When we say that sex is more than just the act, things like pleasure, human body anatomy, and sexual orientation are referred to. Our sexual orientation is whom we do find sexually appealing, or in the case of asexuals, if we don’t find anyone sexually appealing, the greyareas, the spectrum and everything that comes in between..
When such things are discussed openly, people start to become aware of who they are and their true gender identity and sexual orientation. This can make them less vulnerable and less confused. With this, it also is made clear that it is okay to have sexual preferences.
5. Debunking Taboos and Myths
Of course, when we talk about sex without being embarrassed, we bring it out of shade. Some things are not included when people say “ignorance is bliss”, and sex is one of those things. It has always been there with humankind and even in nature. Legends show that there have been gods and goddesses of sex, pleasure, and fertility.
In that case, why do we shy away from talking about something which is the core of life? All the stigma attached to sex can be wiped out once we acknowledge it, accept that it is natural, and talk and teach the real meaning of sex and our children. Several communities still blame women for not giving birth to a male child and thinking are at fault. Sex education can help curb this stigma and misinformation.
Sex education helps people and children know how sex, dignity, and mutual respect are interlinked.
6. Dodge the Taboos Around Female Sexuality
Another major taboo is that of the pleasure and sexuality of those with vaginas. No one discusses it as if it is non-existent. We have to make sure our women also realise that sex is for their pleasure, not just because they have to carry children!
Sex education will help make people aware, which will open doors to healthy conversations about sexual pleasure for both partners, leading to better relationships and more beneficial intercourse.
7. Awareness about Abortions
Although using protection while having sex is advisable to avoid unplanned pregnancies, most of the time, people with vaginas and ovaries get impregnated and remain unaware of it! When they realise that they are pregnant, it’s too late (somewhat similar to teenage pregnancies).
Having knowledge and insight on the subject is of utmost importance. And most importantly, getting an abortion is a personal choice. There are no two ways about it.
8. Gives a Positive Approach to Sexuality
Sex education also aims at making people aware of the different types of sexual orientations and gender identities. This further makes people positive with how they view sex, makes them considerate with their sexual behaviours, and, needless to say, gives them an improved sexual knowledge.
9. Alertness About our Bodies
There exists different anatomy of different genders that should be discussed openly to ensure mutual respect. That is why conducting sex education sessions or classes on this subject should be conducted with respect to all genders.
This also makes people, especially children, distinguish between what is an unwanted sexual gesture and what isn’t. By making them aware that they should raise a voice when they find something or someone invading their privacy and crossing lines, we are also raising awareness about sexual abuse that is again a widespread inappropriate behaviour.
10. Value of Consent.
Considering recent statistics, it is clear that most people do not know what consent is.
Consent means giving permission. Consent is critical, in this case, concerning sexual activities. When we make people aware of consent value, respect, lowered molestation, and rapes will automatically follow. This is where sex education comes to the rescue, yet again.
Sex education educates people that “NO” means no and that any sexual act without the partner’s consent is inappropriate and shall not be continued. This also makes people aware of not exercising undue dominance.
Consent leads to sex, and the lack of it is rape.
We all have had enough of all the mess that has been created because sex was decided to be made an unmentionable topic. But now that we can be aware of the importance of sex and normalise it, let us hope we make this a better place for all future generations. Sex education will help people embrace the activity, be careful in practice and know their rights too.
Sex is not an issue, but not discussing it is.