Sex Education at WHS - Chris Snuggs

For some reason, it seems difficult (or it certainly did 60 years ago) to talk about sex - which is a bit weird insofar as it is fundamental to both our lives and the survival of the species. Is this because the emotions it arouses are so strong? Is it a religious hangover? I assume it was religion that first told us (and WHY, FGS?) that sex was basically a "sin" - and so on. Whatever the case, many parents and teachers have (or in the latter case had) difficulty knowing how to deal with it; my parents certainly did, as I had no sex education whatsoever either from them or anyone else.

To which one could have two basic attitudes:

A) It is simpler and more fun for them to let young people find out about sex in all its aspects in their own way.

B) It is a dereliction of parental and educational duty not to teach kids about it.

I tend to go for B, but there's the rub: Teach WHAT and WHEN? There is no definitive answer to that: both parents and teachers make their own judgement - and those judgements obviously change with the times.

But as these pages are intended to form a history of the school what concerns us is sex education at WHS - and basically, there WASN'T any as far as I recall.

It seems to me that there are numerous aspects to this topic:

  1. the biological reproductive process - the mechanics
  2. the psychological aspects
  3. the social and moral aspects

Pop Corner may have gone over the mechanics; I simply can't remember. If he did, was it with human or animal diagrams? Someone else may know. However, the mechanics in one sense are the boring bit and easily dealt with; what is far more important is all the rest. I always wondered whether the staff discussed this and decided not to mention any of it, or whether it was all simply ignored - either through embarrassment or because they were automatically adopting policy A) as described above.

It may simply have been because there was nobody willing or able to teach us anything about it - or it could have been a case of following guidelines dictated by ILEA: I simply don't know.

But what I would like to have been taught is something like this:

  • Sex raises very powerful emotions and feelings. These might be so strong in you that you think you are exceptional, but you aren't.
  • These emotions may be incredibly powerful in both positive and negative ways; once again, it's normal - so expect it.
  • TRY not to fall deeply for a girl until you get to know them. A relationship that lasts for any resonable length of time (and most in your teens won't) has to be based on more than mere physical attraction.
  • It is incredibly unlikely that you will stay with the first girl you kiss and go out with. Tell yourself that and your pain when it ends will be easier to bear.
  • It is 99% certain that you will be hurt at some stage; it's normal and you will get over it. Being dumped is not a tragedy, but normal; Romeo and Juliet only died in Shakespeare and Hollywood.
  • We are told to avoid cliches, but they are cliches because they have a ring of truth. There IS "someone out there for you" and the chances of it being the first girl you lose your heart to are close to zero.
  • Being rejected at any stage is not pleasant, but it WILL happen; it IS normal and it DOES NOT MEAN that you have no value.
  • If you do have strong feelings for someone, TELL THEM. Girls are not mindreaders; they MAY pick up the signs but you may be so timid and have such a low opinion of yourself that she might not realize. Being OPEN and HONEST is ALWAYS best. If you feel strongly then you may find it difficult to talk - but you have to get over that; silence really is not golden in this context. Work out some questions in advance; practise them in front of a mirror; show an interest in what interests her.
  • You would not like to be treated disrespectfully, inconsiderately or hurtfully, so respect girls as you would anyone else. No other approach will bring lasting happiness.
  • And finally, casual intercourse is bad for all sorts of reasons and is foolish before the age of 18 at least. There are lots of things that are fun without actual intercourse, but you can find these out yourself.