Sex education in schools has long had a well earned reputation for being … less than ideal. My own experiences of school based sexual health education were nearly non-existent. As I was pretty involved in a conservative Christian community through my childhood and teen years, when the permission letters were sent home to give families the option withdraw their children from the lessons, I was often in that withdrawn group. Learning about pre-marital sex was considered enabling and the views that remain persistent across much of puritanical North America were held by my family and church community. Looking back, knowing how genderfucked and queer I truly was all along, I can presume that even if I had been more present and participatory in sex ed classes, it may not have been very appropriate or relevant to me.
One memory that I have of a sex ed experience as a teen was at a big Lutheran church youth gathering. It was at UBC and had brought youth participants from all over western Canada. They had a sex ed session on one of the days, and it was presented by a representative from the crisis pregnancy center. Within the world of conservative Christianity, abortion prevention, sex prevention, STI prevention, all overlap, with the goal being to promote abstinence, only. A part of the ‘education’ session included passing around tiny model fetuses, complete with tiny fingernails and scientifically inaccurate, but ever so endearing faces. We were encouraged to make the choice to abstain from exploring our own blossoming sexuality from the guilt driven position that having sex led to killing tiny babies. As a younger child, on the playgrounds of the early 90s, I had already put together that while sex between men & women led to babies; sex between gays led to HIV. This sort of deep misunderstanding, coming from homophobia and stigma, has not only been held by ignorant children kept from accurate information. Luckily, I found my way towards more clarity in later years.
As an educator, I have been one of the people brought in to classes, from grade 5 through college programs, tasked with imbuing knowledge about STIs, barriers, testing, communication, consent and more. I have made appearances in hundreds of classrooms in dozens of communities, which has resulted in a handful of post-appearance recognition moments, sometimes as glamorous as “Hey!! You’re the condom guy!”. One year when working an educational outreach table at Starbelly Jam, I had a 11 or 12 year old kid who kept coming back over and over. He wanted to spin the wheel, answer trivia questions, and take candies for participating. After a dozen or so times coming back he proudly asked, “So…. do I know all about sex now?” After restraining my chuckle, I explained to him, that sex isn’t something you could ever “know all about”. “Part of the fun and enjoyment of sex”, I explained, “is that every time, with every partner, there is always more to learn. Even just with ourselves, as our bodies continue to grow and change, (through our WHOLE lives, not just through puberty) what is pleasurable may continue to change. What feels good to us and any partner(s) we may have in the future is something we get to keep learning about through how we explore it. Communication being central, cause we can’t assume that we “know everything” about our partners bodies, desires, boundaries etc.”
A part of coming into a healthier relationship to sexual health & pleasure knowledge in my adult life has been about coming into humility. Yes, I have put in my 10,000 hours, learning about my body, desires and pleasure. Yes, I have had countless partners, from those I met in passing, fucking as strangers in places that strangers do that to those I came to know over years of built intimacy, and have learned about their bodies, desires and pleasures. And, with all of that, I know that I do not know everything. At all. There is always room to learn more. As I take my study somatic sex education training on a slow-track while I am also doing the full time care giving work my family requires, I take all the opportunities I can to learn more from other students and practitioners in the field. I have (and will continue to) learned things about my body, desires and pleasures at the hands of SSE practitioners as well as in self-guided explorations supported by online learning. I have (and will continue to) learned more about anatomy I don’t personally have from teachers and online resources. I have (and will continue to) learned about ways to communicate and facilitate the erotic connections that my partners and I desire.
Tools and toys can be a part of this exploration too, as we try things out, we can learn all sorts of things about our bodies, desires and pleasures. Whether its finding that, “oh… that restraint was actually REALLY nice”, “I really thought I would like being on that side of the strap more than I did”, or “The strength of that vibe was good at first, but then… I wanted more” our explorations with tools and toys can offer a lot of opportunities to learn more.
For September’s Show & Tell we are going “Back To School”, and we are going to get into toy, tools and other resources we have learned from. Please join us to explore what we have learned, and share resources that we may continue to learn more from. This time around, I really hope to welcome other sex educators who may wish to self promote educational opportunities they have coming up with the show & tell.
Tickets are on sale today – since the event has limited capacity, don’t waste any time- get yours today. And … if you are a member of my Patreon Donut Club– you get 10% off tickets.