dear internet, let me tell you some things about my public-school-in-georgia sex education.
pictured above is my abstinence til marriage card, given to me in my eighth grade health class. as you can see, i did not sign it, so it is non-binding. they were “optional” but the teacher placed the basket at the front of the class and stared us down. my 13-year-old self had a very brief dilemma between 1. making a stand and not getting one or 2. getting one because it’s fucking hilarious. i am very glad i chose the latter, because as i predicted, this is now something hilarious to show everyone.
that year in health we also learned “how to spot the identifying features of a crack baby” which is literally nothing but lies. we had a system of anonymous questions, and once someone asked “how do i know if i’m a lesbian?” our teacher looked disgusted and she replied “how would i know? i’m not a lesbian!”
EDIT i forgot to mention when she gave these to us she suggested we “cut up our cards together with our husbands on our wedding day” and i remember thinking, fuck if i marry someone from my middle school
the next time i had sex ed in high school it was taught by a dude gym coach who spent the whole time talking about his daughters. the book we were learning from listed “low self-esteem” “stunted social growth” and “depression,” among others, as consequences of premarital sex. at one point, it asked us to fill in the disadvantages of having an abortion. our teacher went, “well, i’m personally against abortion, so we’re just going to skip this section,” which confused me, because it was explicitly asking for an argument against abortion.
the last time i had sex ed it was pretty good and there were free condoms and we got little bottles of lube every time we answered questions, but i don’t think that counts cause it was in an intro to women’s studies class.
This is fascinating to me because I ALSO went to public school in Georgia - Cherokee county in the mid-80s, which was still considered somewhat of the sticks. It was a mix of rural and suburban population.
I had sex ed starting in the 4th grade. I took the permission slip to my mom and she signed it. She also said, “Remember, if you have any questions, be sure to ask the teacher!”
The sex ed I received, first in Cherokee county and then in Alpharetta for 6th grade and part of 7th, was comprehensive and extremely thorough. And I had it every single year. Abstinence was mentioned as the only way to for sure avoid pregnancy or STDs. But I also got condoms to practice putting on plastic models.
The plastic models were anatomical ones that came apart. I was simultaneously fascinated and repulsed.
The classes were part of our regular health classes and I want to say the sex ed portion took a solid six-week period. No pun intended.
My most enduring memory of sex ed in the Georgia public school system is the animated videos. The best one had little cartoon guys dealing with wet dreams. The video also covered masturbation kind of extensively - and addressed that both boys and girls masturbated and that it was great! The animation, which I can still see clearly in my head, had the little cartoon person totally under the covers - but there was a tell-tale rising and falling hand-sized blanket-covered lump about halfway down the body. It STILL cracks me up.
As an adult, when I talk to other folks, it’s been theorized that this super comprehensive education was the result of people being afraid of AIDS. I kind of buy that. But I’m also really glad I had all the sex ed (and I had it at least once a year - twice when I switched schools) from 4th grade through high school (which I attended in Florida, where the sex ed was not nearly as comprehensive). I felt like I knew a lot, and that I had a pretty good understanding of how things worked and what I was and was not willing to do.