Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dumb Choices When Teaching Sex Ed

Well, since I brought up the topic of sex ed yesterday and discussed one of my recipes for success, today I'll share one of my biggest fails. I'll start by saying as many times as I've been through these units, I've actually never had any trouble with immaturity, inappropriateness, etc - I think this is primarily because kids don't want other kids to think that they are immature. As such, these particular class sessions tend to be more civilized and mature than most.

I've always had the policy that you can ask me anything - after all, if they don't ask me, they're probably going to ask their friends who actually know even less than they do. You open yourself up to all sorts of crazy things, but I'm not the type to become flustered by anything they have to say or ask.

There are, however, times when on the inside I'm thinking "please oh please oh please don't let anyone have overheard that" and "why oh why oh why did I open this can of worms." This used to be complicated by the fact that for three of my years teaching I had constant adult traffic coming in and out of my room, because kid you not the office to the Business Manager, Director of Building and Grounds, and Director of Transportation was accessible only by walking through my classroom. Which meant a constant parade of administrators, bus drivers, accountants, school board members, parents, etc were strolling through the room at any time.

So here's my story. We are beginning to learn about conception (for a great ice breaker, see yesterday's post), so we begin by going over the basics of anatomy, both male and female. We get to the point where we learn that women are born with all of the eggs that they are ever going to have, but men are constantly producing sperm. No matter how I set this up, without fail a conversation ensues on what happens when that sperm begins to build up. It is unavoidable.

And this particular year, for no real reason that I can think of now, I decided on the fly to try to avoid the m-word, and simply stated "Sexual activity does not have to involve another person."

The SECOND that phrase was out of my mouth I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen.

Immediately after I said that, a boy asked "So what, like a pig or something?" And chaos erupted.

"EWWWW!" "Who would do that?!" "Whaaaaaat???!!!" and then the inevitable "Mrs. C, do people really do that?"

Great. This is exactly what I wanted to discuss today. So I come back with yes, there are some people, it's called such and such, and by the way it's illegal.

"Why is it illegal? You own the pig!" And then a kid who I swear has never in his life written a paragraph that made any sense came back with the admittedly clever turn of phrase "Yeah, how come you can make your pig into pork but you can't pork your pig?"

Inside my head: make it stop, make it stop, make it stop... And then a girl chimes in "Wait, can you get the pig pregnant?"

And now I'm thinking REALLY? And I make a statement about DNA compatibility, etc, and how no, humans cannot get pigs pregnant.

And then comes my next mistake, which is one of automaticity: any time you say something to the effect of "no, you can't get pregnant from..." "you have a lower risk of pregnancy when..." etc, you automatically follow it up with something to the effect of "but that does not protect you from diseases." It's a good practice to always remind them that pregnancy is not the only risk associated with sexual activity. And so I made that statement.


At that precise moment a school board member was about three steps inside the room. He stopped dead in his tracks, raised his hands, and with a horrified look on his face pulled a 180 and made his escape. He did not come back. Ever.

And I was left to answer the question about pig herpes. Which went something like this:

"I don't really know enough about pigs to know if they actually carry the herpes virus, but obviously the risk of some kind of infection increases with this kind of activity. Leave the pigs - and all other animals - alone. If the pressure is getting to you, find a private space, lock the door, and fly solo."

To which they all nodded their heads in agreement that yes, that did seem like the more logical way to go about things.

And a girl said to me "I bet you wish you had just said that to begin with."

Amen, sister.


  1. Denise,
    Do you have an email address by which I can contact you?

    Sarah Burk
    fcsandthensome at hotmail dot com

  2. I just came across your blog and I am glad I did. Being a FACS teacher I am also open to answer all questions and trust me I get some good ones too. I do think this is the best I have ever read. I love it! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I'm so glad you posted this! I hope you don't get offended, but this really is the best FACS story I've heard in a while! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has made a mistake when teaching this subject :)