It’s not a secret that sex education in America is woefully inadequate. Some students go without sex education altogether. Even those who do receive it likely miss out on major issues, or are presented with an abstinence-only model.
In fact, new data shows that sex education in schools is so bad, that many Americans feel like they could use adult sex education to cover the topics they missed. CalExotics, a pleasure product manufacturer, and they recently surveyed 426 adults on their experience with sex education. In fact, a remarkable 70 percent of respondents said that they felt they could use sex ed as adults, in large part due to a lack of knowledge.
One of the most worrying stats was that 92 percent of those surveyed had never learned about sex positions, how to have sex, local resources for sexual health, gender identity, sexual orientation, same-sex relationships and sexuality, foreplay, interracial relationships, or sex toys. Any of those. Sex education as it is now is so often just the very basics of reproduction. More nuanced conversations on relationships, pleasure, or sex-positivity normally go completely unexplored and, in some cases, there’s an aggressively negative attitude toward sex itself.
“People think of sex education as learning about genitals and reproduction,and that’s a small part of it for sure, but if I had to boil sexuality education down to it’s essence in one word, it would be *compassion*,” sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt tells Bustle. “Good sex education is compassion education. And when we aren’t learning consent, empathy, healthy communication, respecting other’s bodily autonomy, or the importance of pleasure, we aren’t learning about compassion and kindness to ourselves and others.”
So what else are we missing out on? Here’s what else the survey found, because far too many of us are turning to the internet when we should be getting real education.
1. 70% Felt That Could Use Adult Sex Education Now
As mentioned, a lot of people thought they could use sex ed as an adult — in fact, a whopping 70 percent fell into this category.
2. 1 In 5 Had Never Had Formal Sex Education Of Any Kind
Even though I knew it was bad, I wasn’t expecting it to be this bad. A entire 20 percent of respondents never had any formal sex ed. Now, granted this is a small survey, but still — it’s disheartening. If people aren’t getting any formal sex education, where are they getting their information from? And how can they be sure it’s authoritative?
3. Fewer Than 10% Learned About Sex From Their Parents
With less than 10 percent of people getting educated about sex from their parents, it’s clear “the talk” isn’t comprehensive — or happening as much as it should be.
4. 81% Learned From Friends, The Internet, Or Trial And Error
So where are we actually learning about sex? Most of us, 81 percent, are learning about sex through friends, the internet, or trial and error.
Sex education should be a given — a fundamental part of your sexual development and a source of reassurance. The fact that most adults feel so flummoxed they wish they had adult sex ed now is great because it shows they want to learn more, but it’s also a scathing indictment of what’s happening in the U.S.. We deserve better.