The #MeToo movement has done a lot of good cleaning up things like Hollywood and the music industry and now it’s shockwaves are being felt at the high school level. Some health teachers are using this moment as an opportunity to address things while kids are still learning. Move over condoms on bananas, and scary slideshows of STDs, Sex Ed is getting a re-write and quite frankly…it’s about time.
For example, over the past few years, consent has become one of the most talked-about sex ed concepts in high schools around the country. California was the first state to mandate schools teach consent with the “yes means yes” model back in 2015. Since then Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C have also made it a requirement. Six more have legislation pending.
But some schools are going way deeper than that, like San Francisco health teacher Shafia Zaloom who has a six-week curriculum on human sexuality and personal integrity. The course covers everything from how to ask someone out on a date to how to build trust over time. The more standard parts of sex ed, like anatomy, STIs, and contraceptives, are also covered but things like consent, readiness, and the role of pleasure in sex are also included. Students even learn how to break up with someone in the last week of class.
But since there are still some states that do not mandate students get even the basics of sex ed, volunteers are stepping up to pick up the slack. Dara, a high school senior in Indianapolis, teaches sex ed to students through Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council program. Her group meets weekly at a local church and to get lessons from a Planned Parenthood facilitator, then once a month she goes into other high schools to teach topics like healthy relationships, reproductive justice, and dating violence. Dara has been doing that since she was a sophomore and says her lessons are often the first time other students her age are learning about these topics. Yikes.