Abstinence Only Education vs. Sex Education and How I Survived the Former Because of the Latter

This week I discovered SexOutLoud.  A wonderfully intelligent and sex-positive podcast hosted by Tristan Taormino.  The very first podcast was a discussion with Dan Savage.  It was a wonderful conversation that started with abstinence only education in schools and moved on to the difference between queer and straight sex and what the two communities could learn from each other.  Once the podcast was over I felt that I had learned so much and had been given so much to digest.  I also felt much more open and positive about sex which just proved to me that Tristan and Dan are two truly wonderful people that have something important to share with the world.

The abstinence only education piece of this podcast got me thinking about how I grew up and how grateful I am for the sex education I received in middle school and high school.  If it wasn’t for sex education in health class, I wouldn’t have learned about birth control.  Thank god for my middle school health teacher that took the initiative to teach us not only that condoms should be used during sex but also how to put one on.  I probably wouldn’t have learned about STD’s and how to protect myself from them either.

You see, as a child/teenager I was taught that sex is something you saved for marriage.  My mom never shied away from the sex talk with me but since the expectation was that I wouldn’t have sex until I married I apparently didn’t need to learn about birth control.  And I apparently didn’t need to learn about protection from STD’s because I would probably be marrying a virgin just like me.  My mom never had a problem with me learning these things in school but she didn’t put importance on them at home.

In my very early twenties I started distancing myself from my religious upbringing for numerous reasons.  Around that time I also re-met my high school sweetheart – now known as my Partner in Crime.  We started dating and ended up getting married.  Yeah, we had sex before we married.  And I am thankful everyday for the sex education I had in school because I was smart enough (as was he) to know that we should use a condom.  I am also thankful for an aunt who is a doctor as well as someone I could trust to talk to about my sexual activity.  That same aunt gave me my first birth control Rx.  That Rx I wouldn’t have thought to ask for had it not been for the education that I didn’t get at home.

So yeah, I can say from personal experience that an abstinence only education taught me little and protected me from nothing.  Thankfully the sex education I received in school gave me the protection I needed when I decided to become sexually active.  Had it not been for that education in school I have no doubt that I would have made poor choices that wold have ended in a unwanted preganancy and/or STD.

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