S-ex E-ducator X-travaganza!

Vanessa Geffrard

The world needs you! The world revolves around you! The world depends on your extensive, strong, long, and ever-thirsty knowledge of SEX!

That’s right, I’m talking to you, sex education teachers, peer educators, facilitators, and all sexual/reproductive health professionals! Today, April 6, 2012, I declare Sex- Educator Day! This is a thank you for all that you do to educate and eradicate all of those misconceptions around the most taboo topic: SEX!

I am thanking you because few others can gracefully withstand the stare of a young person when he or she asks you “How far can a woman ejaculate?” as Genevieve, HTN’s Senior Researcher, was once asked, or regain your composure while a student goes on a rant about her mother’s sex life in front of her 6th grade classmates, as yours truly experienced a little while back.

Your work, tact, and extensive knowledge of sexual health tidbits have withstood the test of time ever since you started giving condom demonstrations at lunch time when you were in high school. There, the journey began when you would lead the crusade to ensure that everyone around you knew how to put on a condom and remind your peers not to leave them in their wallets.

And look at you now—making a difference every day and using every ounce of your creativity to make sex education fun for our young people!

This blog and this day are dedicated to you and your work. The world is a better place because you have dispelled every myth, kept on your game face while you listened to every story and experience, and answered every potentially embarrassing question in hopes of keeping our young people safe from HIV/AIDS, unplanned pregnancy, STIs, and just plain misguided decisions.

As sex educators, we all have our share of experience with questions and stories that keep our work interesting. Some educators recall their own:

“My fondest memory was [when] a classmate gave demonstrations in high school with water bottles at lunch to explain the inner workings of the male and female reproductive anatomy, and how men cannot ejaculate and urinate at the same time,” Ashley remembers.

Ravenna shares, “I always break the misconceptions about how sex in front of a microwave will not keep you from getting pregnant! I’ve also broken misconceptions around how non-beneficial it is for young men to use two condoms if a girl is known to be ‘promiscuous.’ I’ve also had to explain that if your untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea develops into epididymitis and you have swollen testicles, icing them will only result in COLD swollen balls.

“When I show the stats that STIs are higher amongst girls and almost EVERYONE says it’s because girls are sleeping around without protection until we get the one brilliant young lady who volunteers that the girls are usually getting it FROM the boys, but boys don’t go to the clinic unless something’s falling off,” another educator shared.

“I had a young man ask me if he could get HIV from a cat,” Mila recalls. “Once, during a support group meeting, a 16-year old boy who was a homeless, commercial sex worker asked about dating while being HIV positive—I had many young people as the same question. I also had a 19-year old who did not know he had HIV until his mom died. I had a young girl express to me that every time her boyfriend put on a condom, his penis falls off—she was actually trying to tell me her boyfriend’s penis was not erect,” an educator commented.

One of my own most memorable moments was when, at a college testing event, a young man asked me if he could get HIV from eating a hamburger from a HIV infected cow. Another young man once asked me if he could get a STI from an exotic dancer if he was wearing thin shorts while she was dancing on him. I also remember the look of discovery on one of my friend’s face when I told her that women do not urinate from their vaginas—it was a wonderful day!

Keep doing the work that you do and know that you are essential to our lives. To celebrate this sacred day, I would like you to share some of your stories or questions you’ve received in the field! Let’s become each other’s support system and let’s have a chuckle for the questions we’ve gotten asked. Know that you are appreciated and you are not alone in this work. Share your tidbits in the comments section!

Vanessa Geffrard is a Training and Technical Assistance Associate at Healthy Teen Network.

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