Gracie Schweitzer is a psychology sophomore and opinion columnist for Mustang News. The views expressed in this piece don’t necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
I want you to take a moment to think about where most of your intel on sex and your own body came from. Did it come from school sex education? Your parents? Peers at school? The internet?
Most people receive their sex education from sources outside of designated courses within our education systems, meaning a lot of what is learned at a young age only encompasses heterosexual sex, the male orgasm and very basic information about human anatomy.
Our sex education begins around the age of 12 for most. There is one day that is designated for boys and girls to be separated to learn about the bodily changes they will experience during puberty. This is all children get to learn until another brief course in high school.
When thinking back to this one day in elementary school and one week in high school, I realize that I only learned about half of my own anatomy, none of the male anatomy and absolutely nothing about what to do once I began questioning my sexuality.
Thus, sex education in America is failing the majority.
By majority, I mean the combination of all queer individuals, trans individuals and women that heavily outnumber heterosexual cisgender men. Despite women and the LGBTQIA+ community making up the majority in our country – over 50% of the population being women and over 11% identifying as LGB – , sex education in academic settings such as high school and elementary school is specialized for cisgender, heterosexual men.
We are taught that sex ends when the male finishes. We are taught that sex is about penetration. We are taught to use condoms.
But what about the female orgasm? What about queer sex? What about oral sex!? These topics are barely brushed upon and this is why so many people go on to participate in unsafe and unfulfilling sex.
I was in high school, age 14, before I knew how a person even had penetrative sex. Before then, I knew it was “between a man and a woman,” but I didn’t really understand what that meant. Embarrassing right?
When I began questioning and exploring my sexuality, I had no idea how sex happened between two girls and I had no idea that I was supposed to still use protection. I thought that a strap-on was needed each and every time because I was taught that sex is all about penetration.
The idea that ‘real’ sex is anchored in penetration is one of the many pieces of misinformation that continues to perpetuate the orgasm gap. Multiple studies have shown that the orgams gap rests comfortably around 20% to 50% depending on the age group analyzed. Cisgendered, heterosexual men orgasm around 91% of the time they engage in sexual relations while women reported only experiencing an orgasm 39% of the time.
When we take a look at lesbian relationships and sex, this gap between men and women is much smaller. One reason for this is because, in lesbian sex, both have the same anatomy and know each others’ bodies better. However, it is also due to the fact that sex for them does not end when the man finishes.
If sex education included the basic anatomy of each sex, the female orgasm included as strongly as the man’s, the different identities that one can have, the various forms of sex AND their forms of protection, the orgasm gap could almost disappear. Each person would know how to have safe sex and how to prevent pregnancy.
Society has taken a step in the right direction with the information that is shared in the media and online. There are Tik Tok and Instagram accounts that are devoted to educating young adults with the correct information, so more people are able to learn about the safe ways to have sex and the different types of love and life that are out there.
I was lucky enough to have a great relationship with my mother where I was able to learn that my pleasure is just as important as the man’s and that there are many different forms of birth control. I was also able to ask about sexuality, but even with this, I still entered college sexually active, yet not fully prepared.
Even with our country’s sex education being as restricted as it is, some states are going even further to limit our access to it. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill has recently been advanced into legislation in Florida. This bill states that schools cannot teach kids about sex education and gives zero confidentiality for those who are questioning their sexual and gender identity outside of their homes. Other states such as Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee have also introduced bills around this topic. These bills will only further alienate LGBTQIA+ students from their peers and drastically limit inclusive sex education.
Without access to education about sexual orientation and gender identity, many children will feel alone; they will not know who to turn to if and when they start questioning. Sexuality and gender identity are essential topics in sex education so when they are excluded and even prohibited in schools, our society is sending a message to students around the country that being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community is not allowed or accepted in those states, or the country.
I urge everyone to help educate each other, to look to reliable sources for information regarding sex, relationships, sexuality and gender identities. I also urge others to help younger generations, fill the gap in their sex education that is being created all across the country. Inclusive and comprehensive sex education is our right and our country has a responsibility to educate every student, regardless of gender or sexuality.