Today, I had my first sex ed class.
I am 22.
Here’s how it happened:
I went to a small, private Montessori school from pre-K to 8th grade which explains a lot about me. Montessori schools are this incredible mix of a scientifically calculated educational approach and hippy nostalgia with a sprinkle of very little state enforcement. We learned all the major bones in the body via song in Kindergarten. We also took long walks and wrote poems about them. I loved it.
Once I reached middle school, my once fairly large grade of 40 shrunk to just 7 girls. By this point, the whole middle school portion of the school only had 32 kids. We were young, wirey, and more awkward than mom’s favorite mildly racist anecdote— naturally it was time to talk about the birds and the bees.
One day after our morning meeting, the girls were led to the math classroom. Our one male teacher led the boys to the science classroom. In the girl’s room, we fidgeted with excitement. An all girl meeting?!? What did they have to talk to us about?? I secretly hoped we were being cast as vocal extras in Totally Spies. I was going to be disappointed
The eldest teacher went to the board. She drew a circle.
She wrote words around the circle.
It was explained to our anticipatory faces that this was the circle of life. The circle went in, well, a cyclical fashion. A person is supposed to stay on track with this circle. You don’t go from meeting someone to married to them. That’s jumping the circle. It’s a circle for a reason! STAY ON THE CIRCLE.
Then we were told where the emergency tampons were located and we were dismissed.
That was my middle school sexual education.
I eventually went to public high school and enrolled in my freshman year PE/health class. I had seen a used condom within my first month, surely I would get the “talk”. It was state mandated and I was dreading it.
The class was divided into PE and health, so the first half of the semester I feigned jumping jacks and consistently lied about the amount of gym laps I had run. After 6 weeks of glorified babysitting, my class was moved into a classroom in the basement for the health portion of the class.
After 2 weeks, my teacher fell sick.
We had substitutes for the rest of the semester. They didn’t know what to do with us so we joined the other PE class. I spent the rest of that semester analyzing texts from my friend Lucy’s boyfriend.
So long sex ed.
I didn’t realize that missing this formal class was weird until today, when sitting in my personal health class, my professor gave a lecture about sexual health. In 18 years of schooling, I have been formally taught the quadratic equation and all 50 states in alphabetical order but through a series of not-so mysterious events, I found myself in my first sex ed class at the age of 22.
Delayed 10 years, the talk was pretty anticlimactic. No one was squirming or giggling like in the movies. The only notes passed we’re between me and my best friend. I wrote in caps. She wasn’t enthused.
Moral of the story: Losing your sex-ed virginity is disappointing.
Originally published at shandthomas.wordpress.com on March 25, 2015.