Ryen Cinski ‘22
In sixth grade, I was an avid reader. There was rarely a time in which I didn’t have a book in hand. I could, and still can, read at a very quick pace, flying through the pages with the chapters passing by. I enjoyed reading so much because it allowed me to step out of my daily routine of class, lunch and recess, and step into another world. I’ve always been interested in a wide range of genres including fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi, romance, mystery, and more. One book series that I was particularly invested in was The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyers. The Twilight Saga, often associated with the question, “Team Edward or Team Jacob?” was in part the occasional, barely-there sex scene, but wholly a love story. My sixth-grade self, enjoying the series, brought the third installment of the saga, New Moon, into class for reading time. I opened my book up, ready to continue, and my teacher came running over with a look of both shock and horror on her face. She ripped the book out of my hands and scolded me for having brought it to school, even going as far as contacting my parents. My mom, for the record, politely told her to screw off, and I later finished the series in the comfort of my own home.
That memory has been ingrained in my mind for a long time, as I was very embarrassed. Looking back, though, it has since raised the question: What is the harm in being exposed to sex, vampires, and werewolves in the sixth grade? At the time, I was either eleven or twelve years old, meaning that I should’ve already been exposed to some sort of sex-ed in my public elementary school. If I was learning about these topics already, then why was it so bad to read about them in a (completely idealized and unrealistic, for the record) fictional book?
Stepping away from age and just looking at it for what it is, sex is such a taboo in America. Why is this, though? Is it because it demonstrates the primal, animalistic nature at the core of it all? Is it because it is not discussed in an efficient and effective way? Eileen Kelly, the activist and powerful woman behind “Killer and A Sweet Thang,” an online platform providing a new wave of sex-ed (and well worth checking out), names her website as a place where “we write about sex and all the other things we are told not to talk about — but desperately need to know. We believe everyone can benefit from inclusive, comprehensive sex education, and want to help you resist the forces that tell you to feel ashamed of your bodies and desires.” In promoting a sense of safety and acceptance with effective, comprehensive sex education, kids will be safer and more informed as they come of age.
Sex education is vital. A lack of sex education can lead to a lack of awareness of a plethora of things such as menstruation, safe sex practices, birth control and protection methods, STDs, STIs, pregnancy, abortion and more. At the end of the day, what is worse; a coming-of-age teenager not knowing a thing about their body and sex, or a twelve-year-old reading about Bella and Edward doing it? Come on.