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“What if our kids really believed we wanted them to have great sex?”
November 17, 2011 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Teaching Good Sex -- a profile of Philadelphia's Friends' Central School's Sexuality and Society course and its teacher Al Vernacchio, by Laurie Abraham, author of the book "The Husbands and Wives Club." (Descriptions in the first link may be NSFW.)

Ms. Abraham has a blog post on the Times site regarding research she did to prepare for this article: What Sweden Knows About Orgasms.

Related, from August: Links to resources for teaching sex education and talking about sex with children and teenagers.

Via Jezebel: What do you wish you learned in sex ed?
posted by zarq (38 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somehow I just knew Quakers would be involved in this somehow....
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:30 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pfft. I did this in church school. In 8th Grade.

Sexually Explicit Film Strips. That is all.
posted by JPD at 12:42 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this is great. Three cheers for sexual freedom in America!

Hip, Hip, oh wait, never mind.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:48 PM on November 17, 2011


If you're gonna have pizza with someone else, what do you have to do? You gotta talk about what you want. Even if you're going to have the same pizza you always have, you say, ‘We getting the usual?' Just a check in. And square, round, thick, thin, stuffed crust, pepperoni, stromboli, pineapple — none of those are wrong; variety in the pizza model doesn't come with judgment. So ideally when the pizza arrives, it smells good, looks good, it's mouthwatering.

Sorry grilled cheese, you had a good run.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:49 PM on November 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


Thanks for posting this.

On another note, a sex educator named Ms. de Fur?
posted by emhutchinson at 12:52 PM on November 17, 2011


From now on, I am going to refer to sex only in pizza-related metaphors.
posted by asnider at 12:52 PM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also weird to have the "P-word" be "Pleasure"; I could have sworn it was the other one.
posted by emhutchinson at 12:53 PM on November 17, 2011


Is here a good place to mention how much I hate the word "pleasure?"

It's weird, moist doesn't bother me at all, but pleasure sounds so gross. I guess its from too many grey-bearded neurology professors lecturing about reward centers in the brain, then hearing their favorite word used to describe sexy times... shudder.
posted by midmarch snowman at 1:07 PM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


JPD: "Pfft. I did this in church school. In 8th Grade."

That's mentioned in the "What Sweden Knows About Orgasms" as "Unitarian Church’s sex-ed curriculum, which is considered the gold standard of comprehensive sex education"
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:08 PM on November 17, 2011


Sorry grilled cheese, you had a good run.

Noooo! I love this metaphor, and love that it's still kicking around, not least because it was basically invented on the spot by a local columnist, who clearly meant it to stand for a specific oral activity. Seriously, I've seen people mention grilled cheese in their OkCupid profiles.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 1:19 PM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


On another note, a sex educator named Ms. de Fur?

Ours was Mrs. Forbush. Yep.
posted by longsleeves at 1:22 PM on November 17, 2011


When I was 13, sex ed was taught by the biology teacher and the school nurse, which wouldn't be much of a story except that the scool nurse was the mom of my fellow student.

"Your mom says it's okay to masturbate."
"Yeah, I know, it's pretty great, right?"
"yeahhhh"

That kid was a zen master of not being bullied.
posted by Kattullus at 1:25 PM on November 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


Hey, midmarch--how do you feel about the (non) verb "pleasuring"? Yuck!
posted by emhutchinson at 1:30 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


gerund, people, sorry!
posted by emhutchinson at 1:31 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Three cheers for sexual freedom in America!

Hip, hip, h ... BLAM! BLAM! SHOTS FIRED! MAN DOWN! OH MY GOD! IT'S COMING FROM THE GRASSY KNOLL! THEY'RE KILLING EVERYONE!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:37 PM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Noooo! I love this metaphor, and love that it's still kicking around, not least because it was basically invented on the spot by a local columnist, who clearly meant it to stand for a specific oral activity. Seriously, I've seen people mention grilled cheese in their OkCupid profiles.

I'm the last person to claim to be immune to the charms of grilled cheese, but think of the pizza possibilities: stuffed crust! Extra thick! Do you eat the crust first or save it for later? And that's not even mentioning the toppings!

Speaking of which, how do you top your pizza?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:53 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last time we discussed Laurie Abraham in the New York Times on metafilter it was not pretty. My google fu is failing me at finding that post. But so far these articles look better than that one. I'm only about 3/4 through.
posted by bukvich at 1:54 PM on November 17, 2011


How have I never heard the grilled cheese sandwich euphemism before? That is AWESOME.
posted by asnider at 2:00 PM on November 17, 2011


This sounds soooooooo much better than my father's "Sex Talk."

One night on our christmas holidays, he bundled the unsuspecting twelve year old me up, and then proceeded to talk about sex (which I was wholly uninterested in at that age) for an excruciating three hours.

There were two main themes to my father's sex talk, one somewhat understandable, and one frankly bizarre:

Theme the first: Basically, whatever you do, don't get a girl pregnant, and if you do get her pregnant your life is basically over. Here's what you should do instead of having sex if there's not contraception.

Theme the second: Be careful using random public toilets, because you could get raped by predatory gay men. My father - despite the fact he's not homophobic, really - had obviously conflated some half-heard-none-understood information about gay beats as some kind of thriving underworld pedophile extravaganza.

Dad carefully and in detail explained to me about how men congregate in these toilets - especially at night, in parks or at train stations, waiting for unsuspecting boys they can then rape. It wasn't just sketchy characters, either. Judges, teachers, real estate agents (!); it could be anyone.

He told me never to spend too much time in a public toilet, and it's better to use the bushes if it's at night and you don't feel okay about. He also told me - the sagest of his advice - that if I was in a situation where I really needed to go, but had a "bad feeling" about the toilet, to grab a random passerby and say something to the effect of: "I'm terribly sorry to bother you, random street person, but I really need to use the toilet housed within this fine establishment. Unfortunately, I'm worried that I may be ruthlessly bumjacked by a depraved cadre of homosexuals in the stalls. Would you mind waiting outside while I go, and if I don't come out in 4 minutes or so, assume I'm being ruthlessly ploughed by a collection of judges, teachers and real estate agents and effect an immediate rescue? Thanks very much."

I was shocked. I remember thinking, "Holy shit, I've been using public toilets for years, and I didn't think of anything like this once! I have been toilets in parks, at the beach, at day time and at night, and all the time I was unwittingly playing a form of rectal russian roulette! My god..."

To this day I blame that talk on my inability to pee when someone else is beside me at the urinal.
posted by smoke at 2:04 PM on November 17, 2011 [39 favorites]


I remember the sex talk my dad gave me as well. Typically he waited WAY too long to do it... I remember he came in and sat on the edge of my bed, and he was all nervous, his hands were shaking and he spilled coffee on himself.... I was like, "Dad, how the hell did you get in my apartment?!"

Thank you, thank you very much. Here all week.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:08 PM on November 17, 2011 [18 favorites]


This interview I did about how the Dutch deal with with teen sex (they're in favor of teen love, so they allow sleepovers with long term partners for teens, unlike americans who seen their teens as sluts incapable of relationships) has been one of the most popular posts on TIME.com

It even got tweeted by Dr. Ruth.
posted by Maias at 2:14 PM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


"“Grand slam,” called out a boy (who’d later tell me with disarming matter-of-factness that “the one thing Mr. V. talked about that made me feel really good was that penis size doesn’t matter”)."

If you want to teach children about sex, you should try to avoid teaching them comforting lies. Just because something doesn't *have* to matter, that doesn't mean it doesn't matter.

(OTOH, if you do have a larger penis, you're more likely to have erectile problems... but that doesn't have to matter.)
posted by markkraft at 2:29 PM on November 17, 2011


This is the most important quote to me:

Porn is the model for today’s middle-school and high-school students

Aye aye aye aye aye.
posted by bukvich at 2:36 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wanted to include this card with the new car my wife and I got for our young adult daughter, but my wife vetoed it, with much irritation:

Dear [danf's daughter]-

We hope that you enjoy the car. We know that you will take care of it and use it responsibly and well.

Love, Mom and Dad

p. s. we had sex in the back seat before driving it up to your town - it was great!
posted by Danf at 2:50 PM on November 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


bad sex sounds more interesting though
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:51 PM on November 17, 2011


Hey, midmarch--how do you feel about the [gerund] "pleasuring"? Yuck!

My general rule is, if it sounds like something Betty Draper would say when condemning deviant behavior, I'm against it.
posted by midmarch snowman at 3:12 PM on November 17, 2011


Speaking of which, how do you top your pizza?

Calzones seem to be way more fuckable.
posted by hermitosis at 3:47 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I went to Friends' Central. This class was offered for the first time in my senior year there; I didn't take it. I kind of regret that now, and in the last few days I've heard a lot of people I went to high school with say that.

Also, I was going to post this but I kind of felt it was a bit too close to a self-link.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:33 PM on November 17, 2011


Calzones seem to be way more fuckable.

NY slice, folded in half.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 4:43 PM on November 17, 2011


bad sex sounds more interesting though

This is the part where we talk about the frozen pizza aisle, right?
posted by weston at 4:46 PM on November 17, 2011


NSFW at all. The Norwegian sex education for teenagers is astounding, thoughtful and intelligent. And a real education too.
posted by nickyskye at 6:47 PM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


What do I wish I’d learned in sex ed?

Anything at all about how to have non-heterosexual sex.

I think the biggest mention of non-heteros in sex ed was “it’s okay to be gay”, which is a great start . But come on, let’s acknowledge that gay kids exist, they’re going to have sex, and they’re just as curious/excited/nervous/scared about it as their straight counterparts.
posted by spitefulcrow at 8:11 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Smoke: If my dad had told me about those bathrooms, I'd have been sneaking off real quick to find them. But instead, I learned the more practical version of the story from that sociology book about how gay men meet, which I found in my public library. Not quite as exciting as your version, I'll admit.
posted by Goofyy at 10:35 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a 1997 graduate of Friends' Central, I'm impressed. Our sex ed classes were never like this.
posted by snottydick at 8:32 AM on November 18, 2011


I think the biggest mention of non-heteros in sex ed was “it’s okay to be gay”, which is a great start . But come on, let’s acknowledge that gay kids exist, they’re going to have sex, and they’re just as curious/excited/nervous/scared about it as their straight counterparts.

You raise a great point. As sex-ed is typically taught today it's sort of like: "It's OK to be gay, as long as you only have penis-in-vagina sex."
posted by asnider at 8:53 AM on November 18, 2011


My love for you is like a truck! BERZERKER!!!
posted by Evilspork at 2:14 PM on November 18, 2011


This thread calls for a shout-out to Scarleteen as a terrific online resource, when there's not a progressive sex-ed curriculum nearby.
posted by Sublimity at 8:13 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey! I took that class in 2009! It really is as awesome as it sounds from that article, and that class really did change a lot about my way of thinking. Al is a really fantastic educator, and that article sums up a lot about what made that class so awesome.
posted by DeltaZ113 at 4:14 PM on November 20, 2011


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