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How Not To Teach Sex Education

Updated on November 4, 2015
Please be better.
Please be better. | Source

Not Your Abuser's Sex Education

As an adult, I was eventually required to design, write, and present a course for sex education to two group homes of individuals with MR/DD, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. The course was moderately effective for these men and women -- Our clients understood the majority of what we presented and asked some pretty good questions; no one made inappropriate remarks or laughed out of embarrassment.

I had been careful not to use a single element of the course my high school class was forced to endure.

The content and presentation of the "sex ed" material we received in high school was so abusive that it resulted in physical violence against the older female member of the teaching team, crying, vomiting, running from the room and receiving a detention, simply ignoring the presentation, laughter and chiming in with language even more profane than that which was used to us, increased student absenteeism in subsequent weeks, a few drop-outs, and a couple of parents withdrawing their youth and enrolling them in private schools.

Parental permission was required for the class, but had not been sought by staff; and a few parents had caught wind of the proceedings to come, informed the school that their children were to not be subjected to it, and were ignored.

In a cafeteria of 600+ students, chaos exploded. I sat there, stunned and numb and unable to move when I saw and heard the 2-hour presentation.

The federal government now spends $75 million a year promoting abstinence to kids, and fewer than half of the 50 States require any sort of sex ed be taught in public school. Meanwhile, every sex act known to man is three screens away on your kid’s phone.

— Yahoo Parenting; 11-4-2015

As a prelude to my description, think about this - the administration was bigoted. They forced a light-skinned African American teacher to "pass" as white in order to keep her job. Think also about the talk that my class received at our "baccalaureate reception" on Sunday preceding graduation. We were told flatly and without alternative that we "would not make it in life." Unfortunately, by the 25th Year Class Reunion, not enough of us were left alive to hold the celebration.

We would "all fail, without an exception" - or so 600+ of us were angrily told. An abusive sex education class was part of that anger. It was a preemptive strike against anyone who planned to become a "hippie" during those end years of the Viet Nam Conflict.

The speaker was an older man and angry and we did not know why. Only in retrospect did we realize how unjustly we had been treated. Meanwhile, all of the mishandling of students was remedied for the next graduating class -- But for us, the damage was done.

On with the show in the Roman Colosseum --


Suddenly, we heard several loud voices of young men blaring over the intercom system.

Abusive Lies and Propaganda

We had never received a syllabus for Health Class and never knew what to expect.

I knew little about the human body and had never had pain or complications with menses (since age 10), or PMS, or any of the more usual experiences. I was told that menses is "just something that happens" and I still did not know what it was at age 16. We did not have the Internet or cable TV in that era, were not permitted to speak without raising a hand, our text books were ancient; and I was not permitted to date, to go to movies, or actually to go anywhere with friends or to have them at my house except twice to study. We did not visit the doctor unless it was an emergency. I knew very little except the profane teminology my mother used about other women - and she would not tell me what it meant. Totally in the dark.

I remember the first health class. We were asked one by one how we took a bath, in detail. Anyone that took a shower was cut off with the comment that showers were inadequate and the implication that only bad people took them. Several students refused to answer at all.

One week, our health teacher took us to the cafeteria and we saw that all the other junior/senior health classes were walking in as well. After the large group was assembled, the doors were closed, with teachers stationed near each one, and we were told to not speak.

Suddenly, we heard several loud voices of young men blaring over the intercom system. The voices laughingly and sarcastically shared with one another that high school and college girls are useful only for sex and should be discarded afterward, after one "date."

One voice shouted what he had accomplished sexually with various body parts of one particular girl, using profane slang terminology for most of these parts -- only the F-word was not used. Some of the phrases, I did not understand. Years later, they were made clear to me in better-made presentations in a college psychology course visited by the former leader of Hell's Angels motorcycle gang in Los Angeles and his wife. I was glad I had not understood those phrases earlier.


Regardless of the future, the shouting and sneering voices of male youth ended after 10 minutes. They were so loud that no one could be heard above them and afterward, we were again admonished to not speak.

The female team teacher next gave a discourse that hat we had heard was true for all boys, despite some protests from young men in the audience. They were told to be quiet and the male team teacher enforced that directive. Not much was said about girls.

I recall that the woman was between 50-60 years old and wore an expensive light wool suit with the jacket being a short-sleeved cardigan style without buttons. Midway through the class, she removed the jacket and took it to her office. During the rest of the class after several students left, she retrieved the jacket and found it sliced in half with heavy office shears from her desk. The woman was later accosted by a student from the class, but as far as I know, not permanently harmed.

Improper education is sometimes worse than none.
Improper education is sometimes worse than none. | Source

Ancient Films Terrorize Students

Next, poster diagrams of male and female reproductive systems were presented and short descriptions given. The monthly menses was described, but the pregnancy timeline and features were not discussed. Some of the audience knew all about it and ignored it. Others were embarrassed and looked away. Some just said, "Eewwww." A few of the clueless shrugged. or looked bored. Some girls and one boy cried, but I think that might happen in any properly managed sex ed class as well.

Finally, the lights dimmed, a film screen was set up on one long side of the room, and a projector began running an old color film with no title I can recall.

I thought, "Well, it can't be worse than Signal 30."

Signal 30was shown in health and driver's ed classes until about 1980 in order to illustrate one result of unsafe driving. It showed complete carbonization (4th degree burning) of a careless driver that had thought he could drive over a railroad crossing as a high-speed train approached. He was struck and he and his car burned to a crisp. At least the corpse was dry.

By the time I watched the film with no name, I felt like that corpse.


The Chamber

The old early Cold War film began with a male's narrative that a young woman had gone to a bomb shelter and, while waiting for an "all clear" signal from authories, had gone into labor. The bomb shelter was a concrete block enclosure underground without light, except candles and flashlights and the film director's glaring lamp. The room had dark corners and looked dusty and dingy.

The pregnant woman was on her back with her legs spread and dangling in the air right in front of the lens, her unshaved and matted pubic area facing the camera. She had been having her first contractions before mounting the table, but I can't recall how far apart the narrator said contractions were. Suddenly, her water broke, with blood and other fluids flooding the lens, and partial scenes of the bowels loosing.

Girls and boys screamed and gasped, while others laughed. Some ran out of the room. Some had to vomit and one did not get to the exit door before doing so.

The entire delivery was shown in the film with the lens pretty close and aimed straight on to the action. I could not believe the slicing of the area between anus and vagina in the episiotomy. No anesthetics or other drugs were administered at any time in this documentary, at least that we saw. Perhaps the film makers wanted only that we think that none were used.

The baby was delivered and looked disgusting to me and I can't remember the rest of the film. All of the chaos and repercussions from student reactions mentioned earlier continued and finally died down. I emotionally withdrew and rejected the team teachers' admonitions that if the students had sex, the film's content would happen to the girls and the boys would get off scot-free. Actually, I became digusted with human beings altogether for 2 years. I just wanted everyone to leave me alone.

This "Sex Education Class" attempted to teach females to behave as victims and treated males as dangerous, criminal  and perverted across the board.

I believe that schools should teach some type of sex education, but not any of the material or abuse to which I was subjected.

© 2009 Patty Inglish MS


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Some schools and teachers were really hard on kids in the 1960s and 1970s and now teachers are sometimes afraid of the kids. There's got to be a better way.

      A lot of good sex ed publications are found on reputable book sites and teachers and doctors can recommend others. Sex ed can begin at home and parents can use these materials, too.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Rookie70 -- It was a high school in Central Ohio that is completely an urban school now with great sports teams and education that makes sense.

      They were horrible to us and there had been no reason for it - My class had committed no felonies, had not produced any unwed children, and had not used recreational drugs. Most of the class worked sas well as went to high school. No one dressed as a hippie or punk, or whatever else was "cool." Most of us had won some sort of academic awards. That was Junior Year.

      Senior Year, the administration told us our class motto was too fun; therefore we had to be evil people. At the graduation ceremony, they procured a businessman speaker that told us for 30 minutes that the whole class "would not make it in the world" - those were his exasct words. Well, most of them were killed in action in Viet Nam. Others were killed in traffic accidents that were not their fault (they were run into by erratic drivers on the way to college, etc.).

      By 2000, there were not enough left of us to even hold a HS Reunion. There are a handful of us that made it our business to survive. And here I am, despite that Administration's and some of our parents' attempts to curse our lives.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is so horrible! Even normal sex-ed classes seem embarrassing but we go through them since they are just sensible, useful and information-oriented. What you are saying is pure torture,should be banned or something.Sounds like some concentration camp.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      GOD! What was the name of the HS in the gulag that you went to? Please post it so the rest of us can avoid it! You made me remember, with fondness, my HS biology teacher Ms. Paretti. An Italian lady, middle aged, short rotund, with hair ALWAYS bound in a tight, tight bun and ALWAYS dressed in black. And, God bless her, ALWAYS gave you straight answers! This was in 1959.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      can you give me some bad effects of sex educ.

      i know it has,, its not always a benefits to our children..

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Hi Juliet -- No - actual effects in second paragraph.* The desired effect was to 1) punish teenagers before they could do "wrong", a usual action in my community, and 2) to abuse them because the lead teacher (an older unhappy female that had gotten hold of the "latest" material, latest meaning "20 years old and ineffective") wanted a) to be viewed as "cutting edge" and b) to make happy youth unhappy. However, she did not teach there much longer. 

      *Effects - Most in my class wanted to get out of school ASAP after this and a couple other teaching stunts. Also, when two teachers were married, the school board transfrerred HER to another school system far away, creating tensions in that marriage. A few of my class graduated early. Some parents made their senior students break up with their fiancees after the sex ed class (I don't know why.) Some were tansferred to other schools. Law breakers from other high school systems began being sent to my school because "it must be a place for deliquents to warrant such teaching." A few of my class committed suicide and a few had fatal traffic accidents all at once. Some dropped out.  Others dropped out and joined the armed forces. A majority of my graduating class was married before the Christmas after graduation or within the first year, and many of these went on to experience 2 or 3 divorces. A lot of this class descended into poverty and disability income. But a goodly number were successful, but seemed to have moved away. I see people I attended school with before HS and classes before and after me, but no one in my own class.    

    • Juliet Christie profile image

      Juliet Christie Murray 

      11 years ago from Sandy Bay Jamaica

      That was really emotionally nerve racking for you.Do you think it had the desired effect. I know things have changed now ,but this would not have any effect on students in my country they have watched too many violent movies

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      C. - I agree with you about sex, drugs, alcohol - and also the real world of work and financial literacy needs to be taught in every middle and high school.

      I felt that adults were punishing us for the existence of "hippies" and conscientious objectors and practical jokers that had come before us in the past decade. It was morally wrong to do this to us.

      Anna - Thank you for your kind and common-sense teaching. I think what was done to us was one of the highest levels of abuse that I have ever heard or read about anywhere.

      When girls in this country were beginning to experience menses as early as age nine years, circa 1960s-1970s, and some were not even allowed to know what it is...I'm simply flabbergasted to think about it. One theory is that early menses occurs in girls that are abused at home, as a physical attenpt to reach adulthood and escape through narriage. That is likely far-fetched, in my mind (more probably the result of food additives/hormones), but it could happen in some cases. There was a lot of control and abuse among a segment of families, and from a few teachers to youth, in my area of town - that's all I know for sure.

    • Anna Evanswood profile image


      11 years ago from Malaysia

      As a Teacher, I am appalled by the story that you tell. I have taught Sex Ed to a number of different classes in Australia and in Malaysia and I can assure you that no such shennanigans happened in my classes!! I think that when students complete such classes its important for Teachers to be open and honest and to deal factually with the information.

    • C.Ferreira profile image


      11 years ago from Rutland, VT

      Sounds like a horrendous film and an even worse school. I'm sorry that you had to deal with that!

      I think a solid sex-ed in all schools should be mandatory. Without it, kids go into it blindly and this is why we have unwanted pregnancies and diseases.

      It is a lot like drugs and alcohol. They too, should be taught in schools so that all kids are aware of the repercussions...and benefits...of them.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for sharing that, Paper Moon - It's so fourtunate that your mom stepped up so early and educated you.

      And I just joined you fan club.

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 

      11 years ago from In the clouds

      Thankfully my mom was a nurse. In first grade I saw a playboy at school. I told my mom that the other boys wanted to see the boobies, but I liked the cartoon. She gave me a straight forward sex ed right there and then. By middle school sex ed, the only thing I had not learned was Wet Dreams. I got my sex ed at six. Maybe that explains something about me...... ;)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      bohica - it was horrible but now moot -- The school is completely changed and also an urban school at this time. Big changes were made after we left, shellshocked.

      Thanks for all the other comments! Frogdropping - sorry to hear you had a similar experience.

      I'll also check my files and see what I have left from the sex ed class I taught.

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image


      11 years ago from Fremont CA

      High school and college girls are useful only for sex? This sounds awfully like Sara Wilson.

    • mayhmong profile image


      11 years ago from North Carolina

      omg, I can't believe your high school went that far to exposing such a dirty scheme. I'm sure sex education teachers are use to answering stupid questions from teenagers. But its a lot more different with the college folks. The only thing that bothered me was the scary video of diseases from having sex and the fact that she handed us out some condoms. -_-

    • bohica profile image


      11 years ago

      GOD! What was the name of the HS in the gulag that you went to? Please post it so the rest of us can avoid it! You made me remember, with fondness, my HS biology teacher Ms. Paretti. An Italian lady, middle aged, short rotund, with hair ALWAYS bound in a tight, tight bun and ALWAYS dressed in black. And, God bless her, ALWAYS gave you straight answers! This was in 1959.

    • Georgiakevin profile image


      11 years ago from Central Georgia

      I am very interested in the course you designed for the group homes. I teach life skills for students who have moderate to profound mental challenges at a High School in Central Georgia. Health Education is an area I keep trying to bring in to my class but because of being in the Bible belt I keep getting shot down in my attempt. We have the highest pregnancy rate in Georgia. Georgia is amongst the states with the highest pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease rate in the country. We are also the poorest county in the over 100 counties in Georgia. It has been this way for generations.We need to do something and teaching health and having sex education part of health even in our life skills program is essential. I could use your help.

    • frogdropping profile image


      11 years ago

      Patty - I also believe that sex ed should be addressed in the home. Too many parents (that I ame across professionally) were either sketchy at best or left it up to their childrens' schools.

      And yes, when schools do teach sex ed, it should be 'age appropriate' and contain information that is based around 'health'. There's no need for being too graphic. I saw a similar film to you, regarding child-birth. It was way way too graphic.

      I just remember feeling shocked and worried. I didn't really compute the 'information' it was supposed to be demonstrating. I just got caught up with the images and noises.


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