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What teens think is missing from sex ed

By Leslie Massicotte, Teens Climb High Manager

This past pandemic year, Teens Climb High’s awesome team of teens sent out a survey asking that very question to teens ages 13-18 in Orange County, North Carolina.

What do teens think about their sex education? 47 teens had something to say.

About 50% of students feel that their sex education could do better.

While Teens Climb High got some shout outs for our work in sex ed (thank you fam!), we also heard a lot of issues and concerns (also thank you fam!!).

One participant shared, “My eighth grade teacher taught us the typical hymen myths and said that women don’t masturbate.” (To be clear, women can and do masturbate and hymens are not an accurate measure of virginity!)

Another shared, “A lot of the sex-ed is very heteronormative and there is very little information about transgender experiences.”

Check out some of these other comments:

“[They] teach mostly abstinence but also some protection stuff-my sex education didn’t come from school in general. They wait way too long to bring up important topics like consent.”

“I feel as though we only touched on contraceptives, abstinence, and that we should not really have sex but we were never educated about what sex is and how to safely do it…. It felt like a ‘sex exists’ talk while trying to fully avoid sex itself.”

“The health part is fine, we got the run down on birth control and consent, but like--what about the fact that sex is fun? Or how pleasure works? Or the female orgasm? How do non-cishets bang?”

“I wish substances were more discussed-what consent looks like if drunk, etc…. I think people should better understand sooner if you can or can’t consent when intoxicated.”

This all seems legit to us! You’ve given us some more great blog topic ideas…. (Also check out our past blog posts on related issues like enthusiastic consent, trans sex ed, masturbation, and hookup culture.)

Young people deserve to have medically accurate, nonjudgmental, and relevant information about sexuality.

In the survey, teens also shared a bunch of ideas for what they’d like to learn more about, including:

  • Sexual orientation and gender identity (60% of participants showed interest)

  • How sexual health disproportionately affects minority groups (57% showed interest)

  • Resources available related to sexual health (53% showed interest)

  • What happens if contraceptives don’t work

  • Same-sex safety

  • STI testing and information

  • Using pronouns

  • Grooming, especially on the internet

  • How to have safe sex

What do you want to see in your sex ed? Share your thoughts with us on Instagram @compasscenternc !


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