This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns, Kelsey. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section. – Shanna
Safe sex information is an essential component of health. Expanding the definition of safe sex to include more than just condoms is one of my biggest goals in life. I put a condom on banana for the very first time last month when I was performing in a health education theatre troupe in front of 500 college freshman.
When I think back to my high school health class, the only thing I can really remember is to always use a condom. And okay, yes, condoms are important, they greatly reduce the risk of pregnancy, and protect against some STIs…that is if you are having sex that involves a penis inside you. My point is, the type of sex education I learned in high school never applied to me. I was on my own to become empowered and informed and so are a lot of other people.
The problem is, if the only take home message from a health class is to wear a condom, many important topics are missing. For example:
Where is the empowerment?
If you feel empowered during intimacy, you can advocate for yourself with confidence. One way to feel empowered is being informed and feeling comfortable with your own body.
What is body positivity?
Body positivity means feeling comfortable in your own skin. It means honoring your body and making healthy choices that fit your needs.
What are other forms of contraception?
There are many different types of contraception. Some examples are birth control pills, the depo provera shot, a diaphragm or intra-uterine devices. What’s important is knowing how to access them, what questions to ask your doctor, what they’re used for, and what to expect.
What is consent?
Sexual Consent is voluntary, sober, wanted, informed and mutual verbal agreement to be sexually intimate. It’s a no until it’s a yes when it comes to sex or being intimate.
Are there other types of intimacy besides penetration?
Yes! There’s kissing, touching, holding hands, talking dirty and so much more.
What exactly is a condom?
Condoms are sheaths of thin latex or plastic that are worn on the erect penis during penetrative vaginal, anal or oral sex. They protect couples from sharing most sexually transmitted infections and prevent 98% of pregnancies if used correctly. (editor’s note; this refers to “male” condoms — they also make “female” condoms that are worn inside the vagina or anus. Either type can be used by folks of any sex or gender) You can access condoms at drug stores, grocery stores, some vending machines, doctor’s offices or health clinics like Planned Parenthood.
Sex toys? What?
A great way to spice up intimacy, experiment with different fantasies, and achieve the desired level of stimulation. I recommend going to a local body positive and sex positive shop or doing some online research. You never know until you try! Editor’s Note: Keep in mind that if a toy is not made of a sterilizable material like silicone, glass, metal, ceramic or corian, you will want to use a condom on it when sharing!
What if I am woman having sex with another woman?
That’s great! If both partners are a female-bodied vagina owners, you won’t need a condom (unless to for sex toys, especially non-sterilizable ones), but dental dams prevent sharing most sexually transmitted infections during oral sex. Some people use latex or nitrile gloves, or finger cots for added protection.
These are just some of the topics I would include if I could teach a high school sex education class now. It is impossible to mention everything in a single post, but I assure you there will be more to come. It’s very important stuff.