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8 things sex education doesn’t cover enough

8 things sex education doesn’t cover enough

1. Pleasure

One of the most conspicuous omissions from many sex ed curricula is the fact that sex is (usually and ideally) pleasurable. It’s not just a procreative activity, despite what outdated health textbooks might have to say on the matter! Presumably the de-emphasizing of pleasure is a purposeful effort by conservative policymakers to deter teens from having sex, but truth be told, lots of them are going to have sex anyway, so they might as well know what to expect and how to make it better.

2. Consent

The years since the #MeToo movement kicked off have made it painfully clear that many people either don’t understand how consent works, or don’t care. The latter group act from a place of malice, not just ignorance, so sex ed wouldn’t necessarily help – but for everyone else, learning early in your sex life what consent actually means and how to inquire about it could be transformational.

3. Clitoral stimulation

Contrary to popular belief (and popular porn), penetrative sex isn’t enough on its own to bring most people with vaginas to orgasm. This is because the clitoris, not the vaginal canal, is the anatomical pleasure equivalent of the penis – so expecting someone to come without clitoral stimulation is about as far-fetched as expecting someone to come without having their penis touched: not impossible, but not altogether reasonable either. The clitoris is not sufficiently stimulated by intercourse in most cases, leading many people to feel broken, inadequate, or resentful of their partners. This could be solved with some early education about how pleasure actually functions for most people with vulvas.

4. Kink

While you wouldn’t necessarily want sex ed curricula to advocate for students spanking or whipping one another, it is nonetheless true that many people feel that they were “born with” certain kinks, or have had them since a young age – and for those people, it can be enormously isolating to go through entire sex ed classes without ever even having their sexuality mentioned, let alone normalized. This anguish could be nipped in the bud with just a few small additions to the curriculum.

5. Sexual communication

Most people struggle to ask for what they want, ask their partner(s) what they might want, set sexual boundaries, request technique adjustments, and so on – because this stuff is often quite scary to do, and we’re not taught how to do it well. How much better would sex around the world become, on average, if everyone was taught basic sexual communication skills in school?

6. Queer and trans identities

Sex ed curricula tend to over-focus on reproduction, which also means that they over-focus on sex between cisgender, heterosexual people. Obviously these are not the only kinds of people having sex! Queer and trans people have some unique needs when it comes to sexual health, and everyone should be offered information in sex ed classes about things like dental dams, anal sex prep, lessening gender dysphoria, and how to seek gender-affirming medical care.

7. Asexuality

Similarly to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people, many asexual people grow up painfully aware that they’re different from the people around them. But unlike those other identities, asexuality is almost never depicted or discussed in mainstream media, and so there’s much less awareness of it. Some asexual people end up feeling utterly broken because their bodies and brains don’t respond to sex in the way that other people’s do, and they may not even know the reason for it if they’ve never heard of asexuality. For this reason, this identity deserves at least a mention in sex ed classes, so asexual kids can find out that there’s a label that applies to them and a community of like-minded people they can seek out.

8. Masturbation

It’s the most basic building block of most people’s sex life, the foundation from which they learn and grow as a sexual person. When you masturbate regularly, you learn what works for you, which is valuable information for any present or future partners to know too. What a delightful hobby!

What do you wish had been covered more thoroughly in any sex ed classes you took?


Kate Sloan is a journalist, blogger, podcaster, and educator who has been writing about sex online and in print for over five years. She writes about sex, kink, relationships, fashion, beauty, writing, and mental health. She has been voted a Sex Blogging Superhero for four years running, and her words reach over 22,000 sex nerds, weirdos and queerdos every month. As a journalist and essayist, Kate has written for Glamour, Teen Vogue, Daily Xtra, the Establishment, Maisonneuve, Herizons, the Plaid Zebra, xoJane, and more.

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