What Happens when we don't talk about sex?
We live in a country that’s sex-obsessed and yet incredibly sexually repressed. With only 22 states requiring sex ed to be taught in public schools, most of us grow up without adequate education about this essential element of our being. While 97% of adults in the U.S. have had sex at some point (including 47% before age 18), we are rarely given safe and nonjudgmental opportunities to talk about sex. Instead, we have to figure things out on our own amidst a society that’s sex-negative, body-shaming, and idealizes a very narrow standard of what’s acceptable and desirable. From a young age, we’re given a whole lot of misinformation about our bodies, desires, and sexualities that can leave us feeling confused, ashamed, or disconnected from ourselves, regardless of our gender or sexual orientation.
All of this contributes to the rampant sexual violence in our country. An average of 293,066 people are victims of rape and sexual assault each year. Violence within relationships is frighteningly common as well, with 20 people per minute experiencing physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner. For many, the cycle of sexual or relational violence begins at a young age. Without adequate education about consent, boundaries, and how to engage in healthy relationships, much of this violence goes unchecked and unreported.
it's more than birds and bees
Multiple studies have found comprehensive sex education to be effective in helping people make healthy decisions related to their sexuality. With the U.S. spending over $21 billion each year on unintended pregnancies, $9.4 billion on teen pregnancies alone, and $16 billion on medical costs related to STIs, it’s clear that education is essential.
While this type of education is a great start, it typically focuses only on the biology of sex (anatomy, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, etc.)—not the emotional or cultural implications.
what is intersectional sex ed?
We each have the potential to feel empowered in our bodies and sexualities. We all deserve to live lives that are free of shame and violence. For this to occur, we must have a place to talk candidly about all things related to sex.
Roan Coughtry, MSW, offers intersectional sexuality education to teens and adults with just this goal in mind. Intersectional sex ed takes into account not just sexuality, but the society it’s connected to—from our gender, race, and class background to our education, ability, and religion. Not only does Roan provide engaging education on the biological components of sexuality; they create dynamic and thought-provoking space for people to delve into the emotional, social, and cultural aspects of sex.
Having a healthy relationship with our sexuality affects not just our physical bodies, but our emotional, mental, and even spiritual well-being. This ripples out to our relationships, communities, and society at large. When we're authentically connected to our desires from a place of radical self-love—rather than operating based on shame or societal doctrine—everybody wins.
Check out roan's offerings here.
National Council of State Legislatures, “State Policies of Sex Education in Schools,” Dec 1st 2015.
“The American Sex Survey,” 2004, https://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/959a1AmericanSexSurvey.pdf
CDC, “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States,” 2013. MMWR 2014;63(SS-4).
U.S. Department of Justice. National Crime Victimization Survey. 2009-2013.
National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/infographic.html
Advocates for Youth, 2006. “Sex Education: Programs and Curricula”
Kohler, P. et al., 2008. “Abstinence-Only and Comprehensive Sex Education and the Initiation of Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy," Journal of Adolescent Health.