We are living in a sexual world

July 2nd, 2010 by the sarah | Permalink

Sandra L. Caron is the author of a captivating statistical phenomenon, Sex around the world…
(For author and book information, see previous post)

So I talked about the majority of the countries in general in the last post. Now, I want to focus on our home and native land, and the land closest to that in values, culture, and lifestyle… one may argue. Canada and the United States.

In Canada, the age of consent for engaging in sex is 14 years old, or 18 years for “gay male sex” (14-vaginal intercourse, 18-anal intercourse).
Caron (2007) estimates that 50% of teens are sexually active by grade 11.

In Ontario specifically, the locations that have access to contraception facilities have lower teen pregnancy rates. (Re: my thesis that talks about harm reduction. You don’t want kids to have sex? They will. Reduce the babies and the STIs by throwing condoms and pills at them! Trust…)

In Canada, in most provinces, the law permits each regional school board to set its own guidelines. (This is similar to the States. Each one has a vastly different sex ed curriculum than the next. Interesting… it’s culturally and value-based, me thinks)

A youth and AIDS study found that most teens do not use condoms. From this musing, a plan was fashioned to install vending machines and improve sex ed programs (Mad props).

So Canada is pretty progressive. Way to go Canada! And Happy Birthday, yesterday :)

Human rights laws provide protection based on sexual orientation in all provinces ***except Alberta, Newfoundland, And Prince Edward Island***
Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Really? That’s news to me! What happened Newfies? I thought we were bros.

This is interesting to me. I found a website (I will hunt down the link another day…) that listed the difference in sex ed curricula based on province. Very cool to see that Canada is different, depending on province… much like the States. It’s weird though. I would have that Canada to have a more united front…
No pun intended on the fact that the States aren’t really ‘united’ in their sex ed perspectives. HIYO!

Did you know?
In 2003, British Columbia and Ontario legalized gay marriage, and in 2005, the rest of Canada followed suit.
*** Canada was the fourth country to legalize gay marriage *** Again, PROPS CANADA!!!

In the US, only 19 states require schools to provide sex education. Thirty-six states provide abstinence-only. Hmmmm.
I think this is very interesting. USA has how many states? A million? Haha, I kid. But still! I find it very interesting that if you drive a couple of hours, you will find a completely different set of values. I guess it’s the same as in Canada. This book has really made me think about that. If we are all sexual beings, how come we are taught about it so differently? I guess technically you could ask the same question about math… I teach long division differently than some teachers…

It’s an interesting world out there, but again, I must reiterate: Sexuality is an important concept and N/A or “No information found” does not cut it. Let’s talk about sex! In some way or another… let’s talk about sex.

PS. http://www.sieccan.org/
http://www.sexualityandu.ca/home_e.aspx <-- LOVE! Food for thought? Next post maybe?

It’s a sexual world out there!

June 30th, 2010 by the sarah | Permalink

Sandra L. Caron is a professor of Family Relations and Human Sexuality at the University of Maine.
Her main focus on human sexuality is that of social-sexual development of young people, with an emphasis on sexual decision-making, safe sex, sex education, and cross-cultural perspectives.

I feel like I’m looking in a mirror!

Her book Sex around the World: Cross-cultural perspectives on Human Sexuality was just staring at me in the library, so I HAD to pick it up! Very interesting.

Caron (2007) lays out her book statistically, listing countries and their views of Sexual Activity, Contraception, Abortion, Sex Education, STIs and HIV, Sexual Orientation, Prostitution, and Pornography.

I took a specific interest in Canada’s statistics, but I am going to share with you some interesting facts from around the world. Canada will be a separate blog post (soooo much to say).

Interestingly so…

In Greece, there is no sex education in schools. According to Caron’s (2007) findings, ***Greece is one of the few countries in Europe to have yet to adopt a liberal embrace of sex ed***

In Denmark, sex ed has been compulsory since 1970. Sex ed has been a long standing tradition. ALSO, Denmark was the first country to allow contraceptive availability to youth without parental consent. This began in 1966.

Like Denmark, in Poland, sex ed has been compulsory since 1972, but there is still a strong church influence.

Intriguingly, in Finland, when an adolescent turns 16, they are sent a package with information about STI/HIV, general sexuality, and condoms. Cool? Yes! Sex ed is also very prominent in Finland.

Who takes the cake?
In Sweden, sex ed has been compulsory since 1955!!!!! Also, when an adolescent decides to go on the pill, the first three months are free. WHAAAAT? Like subscribing to a cable company! YAY Sweden. I’m moving there tomorrow…

Along with Denmark, Poland, Finland, and Sweden among others, the Netherlands too has a very positive sex education curriculum with an abundance of contraceptive availability. Using contraceptive is just normal and seems to be done by most. :)

In Romania, sex education was removed from the school system in the 1980s. I wonder why…

Honestly, this book is delicious. Sandra L. Caron has written other books that centre around cross-cultural patterns in sexuality. It is really neat to see that even though we live in a big, crazy, different world… there are loads of similarities when it comes to sex ed. AS THERE SHOULD BE. We are all the same anatomically… and that’s just the beginning.

Canada and the US to follow. There are some JUICY stats there my friends. Some I didn’t even know!

Save your Cherry… or Banana!

June 25th, 2010 by the sarah | Permalink

Says Chapter 5 of my new favourite novel. LAID is a book about “young people’s experiences with sex in an easy-access culture“. It is brilliant.

The book opens with some goals, expectations, and questions. In short, read this book!

Every experience imaginable is illustrated in this book. Its stories are positive, negative, and neutral in nature. The audience is straight, gay, bi, trans, black, white, orange, female, male, s/he… it’s a glorious world of diversity in sex.

I’d like to think of this book as Chicken Soup for the Sexually Charged Person’s Soul.

Shannon T. Boodram (2009) does an excellent job of selecting realistic stories, poems, and tales about first, last, and in between sexual experiences. This book is a HUGE asset to anyone with sexual questions who wants a “for example…”

In between the chapters, Boodram (2009) beautifully articulates the introductions and conclusions to each section in the book. She also addresses a series of questions which she and the author of the story answer. BEAUTIFUL!

I am not finished the book yet. I want to bask in its glory some more. I checked it out of the library, but this should be a permanent book on my shelf. AND YOURS! Whether you are a teen, a parent of a teen, a sexuality enthusiast (like me), or a person with a sexual organ (guessing that’s 99.9% of readers, give or take a few), put this gorgeous piece of work on your shelf… beside the rest of your chicken soup books. (I love Chicken Soup for the Soul).

More on this sexual merriment to come! I am not finished with this book yet.


Hot topic

May 20th, 2010 by the sarah | Permalink

Practice what you preach.


Example: People who preach abstinence-only need to be exemplars of this method of contraception. Yes? No?


To be discussed…

Don’t shy away from things that exist… here’s some food for thought!

May 14th, 2010 by the sarah | Permalink

I have an excellent idea. Beyond excellent idea.

So I was recently encouraged to read a lovely journal entitled Our Schools Our Selves “Sex Ed and Youth”. Not only do I adore this journal, but I adore every author in it! It’s a journal about sexuality and minority communities. A beautiful read, if I do say so myself. I am currently reading Volume 18, Number 2 and I’m excited to get my hands on the other volumes!

So I was reading an article by Alexandra Looky who speaks about the differences in the sex education curricula of North America and Togo. So as I’m reading her article, I keep thinking about ways to improve current sex education (as is my usual train of thought). THEN, my new best friend Alexandra Looky (2009) lists her thoughts on how to approach sexual education. I enjoy them all and I agree wholeheartedly with the general theme, which is a positive vs. negative approach. Also, the inclusion of other aspects of sex rather than the consequence of pregnancy. <-- THANK YOU! What about STIs? Hmm?? What about Susie's broken heart when Jared gets up and says "Alright, I gotta peace. Thanks for the sex"? OR.... what about the satisfaction Molly gets from making the decision to express her love towards her boyfriend? OR... what about Billy confronting his boyfriend about wearing a condom, which shows his self worth in wanting to keep himself healthy and safe? Anyway... Looky's article (2009) raised a lot of interesting points for me, as did almost every article in this journal! One of the things Looky (2009) states is that "the average Canadian is still ignorant when it comes to sexual and reproductive health but is living in a country where countless resources are readily available…” (p. 95).

Absolutely. There are pamphlets about everything under the sun these days, and SO…. get ready:

Sarah’s words of wisdom:
TEACHERS. Why not craft an assignment that encourages students to pick from a variety of pamphlets about sexually related subjects (anal sex, rape, sexual harassment, orientation and harassment, sexual dysfunction, sexual diversity, etc) and ask them to do a presentation/other form of critical assignment on one issue of their choice. THIS WAY the students who are like “aaahhh, I don’t need to know about HIV” can present on something else. It sounds to me like this would be a value friendly assignment. Maybe? Also, have all these pamphlets (hopefully one day crafted by me or another superior mind) readily available in the school. ALL of these issues are important. If a student wants to shy away from COMPLETELY knowing everything about anal sex… fine. Don’t present on it. Yes? Thoughts?

ALSO!!!!! by having each student present on something different, it allows you as a teacher to get through more material and thus, be a more comprehensive sex educator. AND!!! since the students are teaching each other, hopefully there will be more accessible language used, trust, less embarrassment, and an opportunity for students to talk to other students about sex! Whoa. Yes.

So, read this journal. Do it. It is filled with many educated voices from SO many perspectives. These are the people in our communities, in our schools, bravely speaking about something soooooo important. LISTEN. Aka, read. :)

"No sex vs. Safe sex" Teachings. Throw in your two cents

May 14th, 2010 by the sarah | Permalink

So I’m writing a paper on school culture and how it reflects the curricula of that school, and thus I began to ponder the differences between a school that teaches comprehensive sex education and a school that teaches abstinence-only education.
I personally believe there are pros and cons to both teachings (as there is to most everything!!!), but I’m all about the comprehensive everything. Straight up.

I found an article written by my new best friend David Salyer on The Body. com, which is a site promoting the education of HIV. He talks about American’s funding for abstinence-only education and how A-O is not living up to its expectations, so why is America still tax dollaring to the max???


PS. The comic is supposed to be funny… I’m not saying that abstinence-only education is going to promote teen pregnancy, at ALL…. however…
Even if you happen to believe teenagers really shouldn’t be having sex, consider that around age 13, they stop caring what you think, anyway” (Salyer, 2004).

^ This, my friend, is true. Teens WILL rebel, so you may as well lay out all the options.
Okay. Like my friend David states in the article, I’m not saying don’t teach abstinence, I’m saying teach MORE than JUST abstinence.

So one of the things most prominent in my thesis will be to strengthen a student’s self awareness, self esteem, and self respect in order for them to make strong, informed, knowledgeable, healthy decisions on their own. I read this passage when I recalled this emphasis on the self:

The thing about teenagers is that when you give them no information, they start making things up all by themselves. That’s why 16-year-old girls end up with gonorrhea of the throat — somehow they determine that oral sex isn’t real sex because no adult has ever told them otherwise. Comprehensive sexual education can dispel sexual myths, acknowledge the potential consequences or risks of sexual behavior and explain what’s going on with teenage bodies. And because abstinence-only education places everything in the context of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage, America’s gay and lesbian youth are dismissed, thus reinforcing feelings of isolation or shame (Salyer, 2004).

My issue about abstinence-only education and the promotion of a certain rigid form of sexuality is that it does not fit with every student. The last thing I would want to do in my classroom would be to isolate or shame a student. Let’s be realistic my friends. Not everyone is going to have the same values about sex, and so a comprehensive sex education ensures that most of the values are met by addressing different POVs.

Don’t dismiss anyone. Talk it out. Talk it ALL out. Props David. You know your stuff. I agree. Stop funding for something that just does not work. Rather… HERE’S an idea:

Sarah’s words of wisdom:
Incorporate abstinence into the already existing sex education program. OH WAIT… this is the way it already is in a comprehensive sex ed curriculum. I just got my wish. Now let’s implement this business everywhere, shall we?

Sexuality, the friendly ghost

May 12th, 2010 by the sarah | Permalink

So I’ve recently been reading a lot about curriculum. There are many different types of curricula that take place in schools. I took a curriculum course last semester, and one of the most intriguing curricula to me was the notion of the hidden curriculum.

Hidden curriculum is what is learned without us knowing… so to speak. For example, 2+2=4, yes. This is probably what was written on the overt curriculum. BUT, Bobby and Susie discussing a parent’s divorce on the playground; this is hidden curriculum. What students learn (and trust me, it’s a lot!) that is unintentional.

Now ladies and gentlemen…. Let me introduce you to the biggest ghost in the world: Sex Education

If we do not teach kids about sex in schools, they WILL learn it anyway. At lunch when Bobby holds Nicole’s hand and she blushes. BAM… that’s a sex education lesson. At a girl’s sleepover on Saturday night when they giggle and talk about boys. BAM… lesson two.

Rest assured, it is not only sex education that is a hidden curriculum. And rest assured again that hidden curriculum is not necessarily a BAD thing. The majority of the things I deemed valuable in high school were not things on the overt curriculum. My grade 10 history teacher gave me some study tips inadvertently that really stuck with me. As I educate, I find myself reiterating these tips to many of my students. Thanks Ms. Morrison!

The hidden curriculum. Be aware of it! It’s not all bad. Actually, most of it is incredibly inspiring. So, don’t be afraid of all the invisible sexual knowledge. Key word there: all. You can be afraid of some!
(***Parents: Note the privacy/safety tool on Google***)

Not all ghosts are malignant ghosts. :)

I think my teacher skipped this part. WARNING: This clip says the word ‘sex’ in it…. a few times

May 11th, 2010 by the sarah | Permalink

*** See Pop culture teachings about sex education for link ***

So I couldn’t upload the video (I will try to upload it in the left side column), but this is a trailer for the movie Skipped Parts. It’s an adorable movie (and by adorable, I mean you should probably be 18+ as this movie is kind of rated R…)
Anyway, it’s an adorable film about a boy who is naive about sex, except for what he reads in books.

He meets this chick next door who is all like “pfft, I know more than you”, so they decide to “educate” each other about sex, aka have it.

This movie illustrates the lack of information about sex education in youth and how it can be detrimental. Obviously, it is a little extreme and intended to be comedic and not entirely truthful, but STILL.

Pop culture addresses issues that are prominent in society, so let’s all listen to the media! It knows…. sometimes.

Anyway… I think this clip is hilarious. I recently bought this movie. I watched it when I was …. 13 I think, because I had an irrational crush on Bug Hall, and then I watched it again when I was about 16 or 17. Then I bought it this year and watched it again. Every single time, more and more was revealed to me about sex (the lingo, the myths, the norms).

I think this movie is very interesting.

I’m quoting it in my thesis. Straight up. Check out the link to the trailer! It’s a good one. Kind of weird… but hey… that’s good TV! :) Enjoy.

Moral of the story (in my opinion), don’t be afraid to ask questions about sex… unless your mother is Jennifer Jason Leigh. HAH! Her character is a little intense.

Moral #2 of the story: Just because it is not taught in school doesn’t mean kids won’t try to learn about it. TRUST! Kids think about sexuality. It’s sex for crying out loud!

PS. I still think Bug Hall is cute.

It’s Perfectly Normal…. Damn straight it is!

May 11th, 2010 by the sarah | Permalink

Kids kids kids!!! I have found you a sex education book, completely real, completely chill, completely value-free! Robie H. Harris (my new bff) has crafted a gorgeous comprehensive sex education book for kids titled It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health.

This wonderful book does not highlight a specific age it is intended for, but as the reader, I’m going to suggest ages 9-14…? Yes. It is written very matter-of-fact-esque with adorable visuals and simple explanation. Harris (2004) broadens her focus as she moves from birth to adolescence, talking about how the body differs and what one can do with his/her body. It’s very “what? when? how? why?” which I like.

And here’s the delicious portion of the pie:

This book includes masturbation and sexual orientation.

Say what?!?!?! Robie H. Harris first published It’s Perfectly Normal in 1994 and revamped it for 2004. I got my hands on the 2004 copy. I am curious to see if the 1994 copy has similar content. Thoughts?

The author of this delicious informative treasure won the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association Award for outstanding education. Of course she did! And it is well deserved from reading this masterpiece! :) Well done girlfriend!

I picked up another sex education book at the library that was written from a Christian perspective. Definitely informative and written well, but I was in search for a value-free text. Now I know everyone is biased, but the Harris book is just so diversity friendly talking about culture, orientation, differing bodies, etc. I was impressed.

Mad props to you Robie H. Harris. I am a fan of your book.
When I teach all your children sex education (fear the day), I will use this book as a written curriculum. Straight up.

Thanks for keeping it real like so many neglect to do. Verrrry nice.