What many M-A students remember as the most awkward week of their freshman biology classes is one of the most crucial classes according to those who teach it: Teen Talk, more commonly known as sex education. Currently, only 24 states and the District of Columbia mandate sexual education for students; even more shocking is that only 20 states demand that the information given must be factually and medically accurate. California is a state that demands both, and M-A complies by outsourcing to Health Connected.
The organization, Health Connected, aims to give students inclusive, practical, and accurate information about sex and bodies. Teen Talk is taught during the second semester of freshman year at M-A.
Moreover, Teen Talk fills in the gaps that many students may have in their education, especially at home. Instructor Cyril So explained how some students don’t feel comfortable talking about sex with trusted adults and that students can improve their own sexual education by “trying our [their] best to have conversations like these in the classrooms and hopefully eventually being able to have the conversations with a trusted family member or adult.”
Even Teen Talk instructors compliment M-A’s sexual education program. So explained, “I know most students get sex education twice, once in middle school, once in high school. I also think M-A does a lot even after Teen Talk, and with life skills as a class, and even giving condoms in the front office.”
Students, however, have different thoughts about sexual education. One freshman girl thought that our sexual education program could be improved by “teaching us things we didn’t learn in middle school.”
Another common complaint of students was the attitude of their fellow classmates. As one student explained, “It seemed very rehearsed and some students didn’t really care and didn’t pay attention.”
Often sexual education is thought of as being purely about puberty and reproductive actions, however, according to some instructors the most important lesson is completely different. Teen Talk instructor DaShanna Jones-Miles believes sex ed is important because “I think students learn that it’s more than sex, I think they learn that [Teen Talk] is skill-building, talking about values, and learning how to set boundaries and talk about those boundaries.”
So agreed that Teen Talk is important because it teaches students that “they aren’t the only one struggling with this, other people have been through these teen struggles, and there are resources to help.”