I am a Sex Educator!

Dear Reader,

One rather large part of my life I'm yet to write about is the fact that I am a volunteer for a charity called Sexpression, educating young people about sexual health, sexuality, gender and relationships.

All the good stuff.

Often when I tell people I teach 13-18 year olds about sexual health, they look a little flustered and sort of make a rushed "oh..Ok..oh...wow" stream of noises.

        You should have seen my Grandma's face when I happily told her over tea and fruitcake.

Sex, for a lot of people, is an uncomfortable subject and highly personal, which is totally fine. Even for me it can be, and if you ask any of my friends they'd probably agree I'm generally a little too open and chatty about the subject.

For those of us who actually received some form of sex ed (which until September, STILL won't be mandatory in the UK national curriculum?!) might remember your teacher or school nurse uncomfortably explaining the birds and the bees in a very brusque and heteronormative fashion during PSHE or biology. There would of course be that one boy at the back, probably called Jack or Aaron, who would loudly ask the poor increasingly red-faced teacher about condoms made for people with 'Massive Dicks', or something to the same effect.

So I bet you're wondering why on earth I would ever want to be in that position,  flinching as everyone giggles when you say the word 'vagina', let alone have Sex Ed as my primary passion. Well, since you asked, here are my reasons:

1. I actually had quite good sex ed

Maybe it was my curiosity about sex and how the body works, but I remember having pretty thorough sex education. Don't get me wrong - classes were still very heteronormative and I read my 'what's happening to my body' book back to front several times, which probably put me ahead of the class to some degree. However, we covered STIs, a bit on consent, how to put a condom on, abortion, abusive relationships and a bit on the pill and alternative forms of contraception. This is a very restricted list, but better than a lot of people.

I am continuously learning and finding out new things on sex. The topic is endless, and I think it is shied away from because of this. It's felt the basics can only be covered, but really - sex is so attached to so many other issues. It is central to our thought processes and to life itself, so surely it is a basic right that young people receive a full and detailed discussion and education on the topic?

That's my thinking at least. I feel like I want others to experience the same level of sex ed as I did and then some! So the best way of doing this is doing it myself.

2. It's actually a very important thing for our world

Population issues and policy have always been a huge interest of mine and is a lot of the reason I'm doing a geography degree. Over-population is one of our world's biggest problems and contributes significantly to and indeed exacerbates the consequences of climate change.

The education and empowerment of people, particularly women, especially through learning about contraception ad reproductive rights allows so many positive changes. I could write a whole post on these issues, but to save time and space I'll just say that by empowering people by teaching them sex education across the globe, our planet benefits hugely:

Reduced carbon emissions, less pressure on land and resources, more minds working towards tackling global issues and therefore an aid to tackling climate change, better water supplies, lower levels of unemployment, reduced infant mortality and improved life expectancy and quality of life, economic growth, reduced pressure on and thus improvement to medical and emergency services, cuts to government spending, more investment in individuals and thus higher achieving and prospering children - the list goes on.

Sex Ed has huge knock on effects that simply can't be ignored or sidelined.

3. I enjoy teaching

I really like teaching. I don't necessarily want to become a teacher, because curriculum geography isn't necessarily my passion, however, teaching about a subject like Sex Ed, which i'm passionate about is fun!

I really enjoy presenting and chatting about important stuff and seeing the people I'm teaching engaging and asking questions is honestly one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.

I always leave Sexpression teaching sessions feeling inspired, motivated and a bit giddy. I remember being nervous for my first one, then walking out feeling like I was on top of the world.

For someone who worries often about not knowing what I want to do for a job after uni or even about having many hobbies or interests, finally getting that 'ah yes, this is what I want to do' feeling was a relief and exhilarating - I almost cried.

4. Sex fascinates me

I've always found sex and how impactful it is on so many areas of our lives so interesting. To have the concept of Sex and relationships as your passion can come off as a little odd to some, especially when you're younger.

I remember feeling embarassed that I was so interested in it, and being the object of quite a bit of teasing in biology lessons when my hand would shoot up to answer every question.

As I got older and started watching youtubers like Hannah Witton, and realised oh my goodness - young cool people have Sex Ed as their job?! I became a lot more confident and open about it as an interest. Sex is interesting to me and I never get bored of talking about it.

5. I want to see change.

Throughout my late teens and even now I'm 20, I have too many friends that had no idea how their own body worked, or even what their genitals look like.

I have friends who are scared of their own bodies and think that wanting to have sex just for pleasure is wrong, or that pleasure shouldn't be expected or even possible.

I have friends who thought having sex meant lying down and letting a penis go in your vagina until the person attached to the penis is satisfied.

I have friends who have been given so little information on sexual health and relationships that they turned to other sources like porn or older peers to guide them - only to be horribly misinformed.

I have friends who think having an STI is disgusting and are too embarrassed to go to a doctor.

I have friends who have had their 'no's' shushed out of them or felt they couldn't say 'no' in the first place; friends who thought they were supposed to just 'put up with it' because no matter how many times they said 'no', the other person kept going anyway.

I could come up with a hundred more examples. It honestly makes me sick that even in a privileged situation where myself and my friends have access to education, we aren't taught things we deserve to know. Here in the UK, most of us are fortunate enough to be able to express ourselves sexually in a far more open way than many others, but it still is far from where we need to be.

I teach Sex Ed because if I can prevent it, I don't want another teenager afraid of sex or to end up in a potentially harmful situation they were not taught how to prevent or solve. I want to give as many people as possible information I wish I had known when I was their age and make conversations around sex fun, open and interesting.

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