Here is the interview with an teacher in high school health center. We focused on what and how educators teach in high school sexual education course.
Can you tell me what kind of education are you focused on? Why did you decide to become a teacher?
- We are in the health center. So we focus on physical health.
- Before I decided to be a teacher in the student health center, I was a nurse working at the blood test department in Zhejiang Hospital. During the time I worked there, I saw a lot of young girls come alone or with their parents because they were pregnant. Some of them were only 16 or 17 years old, and they didn’t know how to protect themselves. So when I got the chance, I decided to be an health teacher in high school. I’m trying to help minimize the event of unintentional pregnancy.
What is the content of your lessons? (Physical structure, how to use condom, AIDS, sexual orientation, etc)
- We offer two courses per semester for students, which teaches about sexual education, one is for boys, another one is for girls. For boys, We usually focus on how to avoid unprotected sex (how to use condom). We will talk about AIDS too. For girls, we usually tell them more about their period, and what they can do or can not do while they’re on their period. Not much about sex.
What sources do your students turn to for sexual information?
- For courses, we do have a book. But we usually let them read it after class, because the school doesn't give us that much time to teach them chapter by chapter.
- Also I think a lot of kids got their sexual knowledge from porn videos, which I think is not a very good way to learn about sex. Because porn videos are not educational, and a lot of them are not a display of a healthy sex situation. For example, some porn videos discriminate against women.
Are parents ever involved in sexual education? If they are not, why do you think it is the case? How comfortable would you feel having them talk about sex related topics to kids?
- I don’t think parents are talking to their kids about sexual education enough, but it is getting better. At least, nowadays, more and more parents are trying to talk a little bit about sex when their kids start going to high school. But they are not telling their kids how to have safe sex, but are telling them not to have any relationships with others before college.
Do you think religion or culture play a role in your sexual education? If so, can you explain the role?
- Of course yes. For example, Muslims are not allowed to have sex before marriage. By enforcing certain behaviors in an alike community, kids are more likely to follow suit.
- In general, I think culture differences are much smaller than religious differences. I think the youth population everywhere has sexual health problems.
What are the major issues faced by young people when it comes to sexual health?
- I think the main problem is: they don’t have a chance to learn about sexual education integrally. And they usually learning it from unclear or misleading sources, and this is the most dangerous thing that maybe will lead crimes.
Do you discuss types and methods of birth control with your students? If so, please elaborate.
- Yes, for both courses, I discuss the many ways to prevent unintentional pregnancy. For the girl’s class, I urge everyone to have their own condoms at all times. Incase their partner doesn’t have protection or tries to avoid using protection, if the girls prepare their own, there is no excuse. For the boy’s class, it’s even more important to stress the importance of having condoms at hand. A tip I give them is to just leave a few packets in each of their pants and jackets.
How do you think sexual education can be improved for everyone?
- Because we have no control or knowledge of our student’s life at home, we must work harder during classes, because that is the only time we have control of the knowledge we can provide. Either longer classes or more frequent classes would help us distribute more information within a reasonable time period.
Do you think there are gender based differences when it comes to the access of information about sex?
- I don’t think so. I can’t understand why school let us separate boys and girls into different courses. I think that both genders need to know and understand both sides, then they can protect themselves and their partner better.
Is there anything I may have missed that you would like to share on this topic?
- I think in addition to school, parents can be doing more. There is a funny anecdote that is shared in every household. Parents always tell their kids a creative and often comical story when their kids ask them where they came from. I can understand that parents don’t want to talk about this when their kids are too young but there needs to be a more informative way to answer this question.