My first interview is about sexual education in for teenagers in China and sexual orientation differences. My interviewee is one of my gay friends who lives in China. Here is the main Q&A we were talking about. I also highlighted the important points.
When and where did you learn about sexual health? What was your first encounter with sex education or health?
- The first time I touched about this topic is in my middle school, we have a class call physiological education. But it actually about sexual health, but not the sexual education I think. The teacher only told us how to keep ourselves healthy, or for girls, they talked about emmenia.
- Also the fun thing is: boys and girls were separate when we took the physiological education course.
What were your sources of sexual education and what did you learn from each source? (e.g. friends, older sibling, school, parents, etc.)
- From friends, of course. Elder friends (+1 to 5 years old) are really helpful actually. (hahaha) But I don’t have older sibling. Ah, from friends, they taught me how to find resources online, like sexual images and porn websites stuff.
- From school, just like I said before, we have physiological education, at least we knew what is that, and how to stay healthy.
- From parents (hummmmm) literally nothing. I’m not sure if it is only happens in Asian countries, but base on our culture, families usually don’t talk any topics about sexual, we feel awkward, embarrassed.
Did your parents ever talk about to you about puberty? If they had not, why do you think it is the case? How comfortable would you feel talking about sex related topics with them? or with other older adults?
- Yeah, we did talk about the puberty, but not about sex topic. You know right? We were not allowed to date or have relationship before college. So they will just told us like “don’t date anyone, you are too young, just focus on your study”. Then after college, we usually left our hometown, so we don’t have a chance to learn from parents actually.
- Because I really didn’t talk about sexual topic with my parents, since I feel it is kinda embarrassing/uncomfortable. I’m a gay guy, but when the first time I found out that I like boys more than girls, I feel scared. Why I’m different? Maybe it is a diseases? Is there any way to change that? I was confused, but no one told me how to deal with it.
Can you share a story where you felt like the information you received about sex led to an awkward situation? If so, who did you go to for help?
- I think my hard life is during the first year I realized I’m gay. I didn’t know how man and man can have sex, but my first boyfriend taught me everything, I think it really happens in everyone, first boy/girl friend is the first teacher about sex, literally.
Did religion or culture play a role in your sexual education? If so, can you explain that role?
- I don’t think religion is playing an important role in my sexual education, because I am a nullifidian.
- But culture affect me in some ways. We don’t talk about sex in public, families, we feel embarrassed. Asian people are shy, always, and we do have clear different level of age-groups. For example, most of my friends are same age as me (+-5 years), so that we feel more comfortable to talk about those kinda topic, because we are all learning. But if there is someone elder than me, like more than 5 years older, or parents, I wouldn’t talk to them about sex.
How do you think sexual education can be improved for everyone?
- I really think parents should be the first teachers for their kids. For example, before 15 years old, actually as young as possible (4 or 5 years old?), parents should teach their kids how to avoid sexual assault. Like, you cannot allow people to touch your butt. Because this is now, really a serious problem in China, I think all over the world too. Young kids, they don’t know they were been interfered.
- Also after 15 years old teens, school should play a major role about sex education. Because young people prefer discuss sexual topic with young people, and school would be a safer place. Definitely, school should continue teach students physiological health, also need to mention that, how to use condom to avoid pregnancy or venereal disease, how to protect ourselves during the sex.
- The most important thing is, school should also talk about LGBTQ groups, sexual orientation differences is a very normal situation, which happens everywhere for everyone. I hope there are less teens feel sad, or misunderstanding about sexual orientation, like me. They really need to know that: They can be anything they want to be. Be confident of who they are, and respect it.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were learning about sex?
- I hope I could know more about sexual orientation when I was in middle school. I was afraid to ask any other people, and there was no mental health teacher in my school either. The only way is searching online, but there were a lot of bad/fake information popped up. I didn’t know which one should I believe, or what should I do to solve this problem.
Do you think there are gender based differences when it comes to access to information about sex?
- I don’t believe so, all people should be the same, we need to know ourselves, also to learn to understand other people. It is just about the human equal thing.
What are the specific needs and challenges for young people in your community?
- My community? I can say it is gay group. Base one this, I think what we really need (and also it is the challenge) is to know that, even gay group is much smaller than straight group, but it is just like minority nationality, we are different, but we are also the same. There is no any level differences. I wish all young gay people would know this clearly, and be proud of themselves.
Do you have any recommendations for who else I should talk to about this topic?
- I think legal protection is the most effective way to help teens. People should add sexual education requirements to the law.