If you've never seen Sex Education, login into Netflix and start watching it right now. Sex Education is a series that chronicles teenagers at the fictional Moordale High School as they navigate various parts of adolescence, including sex.
The show highlights and explores pretty important parts of sexuality and sex that are largely ignored by the Jamaican sex ed curriculum. Here are three lessons that I think Jamaica's Sex Ed should take into account:
Sexuality is fluid
I know people hate to hear or accept it, but sexuality is fluid and that knowledge should be used to develop a sexual education curriculum that will disseminate relevant information. Adolescents are not just heterosexual, and that is not to be expected. Knowing that sexuality is fluid would, therefore, call for a curriculum that includes information about how anyone on the spectrum may protect themselves. It would be beneficial to go through some of the labels for TEENS struggling or confused about how they're feeling. Being a TEEN is hard enough, I think a lot of the pressure can be lifted if they are able to speak openly and freely without someone trying to tell them their whole being is wrong. We have a long way to go in this space.
Abstinence-only education is not effective
You can read more about why that is, but the truth of the matter is studies have found it to be ineffective and it's time that we, as a country, stop defending it. I've always heard the quote "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result". If we want to tackle STIs and increase sexual knowledge, sex ed has to be taught holistically. Sex Education shows the very normal reality for many of our high schools: students are having sex. The students of Moordale High School don't have a comprehensive sexual education curriculum and you can see how that hurts them.
Adolescents have a lot of healthy questions about sex
Between Otis' selling sex advice and Jean getting in trouble for reassuring the students that they're normal, it's evident that teens have a lot of questions about sex, and many are grossly misinformed. From the various ways STDs are spread to masturbation and oral sex, TEENs have a lot of questions. Instead of skirting around the issues, it would be best to address them and give them correct and scientific information, whether or not you agree with the practice. This isn't about you and your feelings, it's about ensuring TEENs are well informed and can make decisions for themselves.
Regardless of the age of consent, there are means and ways to have AGE APPROPRIATE sexual conversations. Sex Education does a good job of showing up the issues we have, as well as how teenagers go about getting the information they need. No one is saying you should tell teenagers to have sex, but if they decide to (and many will) having them informed is their best bet to be safe. Naturally, many of these holes exist in our sex-ed curriculum because of culture and our unwillingness to change.
We like to teach young people, girls especially, that they are worth much more than their body, but simultaneously tie their self worth and value to whether or not they're having sex. Students aren't being taught how to relate healthily to sex and when they reach the age they 'should' be having sex they can't unlearn all the shame they were taught.
We can only hope that sex ed becomes more objective in the future, since it's literally detrimental to us if it isn't. According to Jessica Valenti in her article Abstinence sex education doesn't work. It teaches lies to ill-informed virgins, "Students need sexual education that's comprehensive, medically accurate, and free from shame and ideology. Not just because sexuality is an integral part of our humanity, but because when you withhold medical information about sexuality from children and teens, you are endangering health and lives."
We hope to see a revised and inclusive sexual education curriculum soon.