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Sex Education in School: I Thought It Was Going to Be The Worst Class Ever

By Nisa Ward

Walking into health class this past school year, I wasn’t expecting much.

I thought I would be disengaged from class. I was prepared to be bored to death. Honestly, I was ready to believe health education classes would be the worst.

Health And Sex Education: Actual Experience

As a transfer student entering a new school, I already had the burden of being the new kid, and entering a classroom where we would talk about sensitive topics was intimidating. Although I am typically a vocal person, I was nervous to speak in front of a new set of students, so I started off quiet.

But health class ended up as one of my favorite classes! We discussed so many important topics, including sex education.

Now, when someone brings up sex with a bunch of hormonal, opinionated teenagers, you’re bound to have some difficulties, but we learned a lot. We faced many challenges as we talked about healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to know when you are in one. We wanted to make sure all sexualities, genders, beliefs, and races felt included in our unit, so we set up ground rules at the beginning of the year.  Anyone could say what they wanted as long as it was said using an “I feel” or “I think” statement.

Although it was hard, it was very doable. For example, when we discussed getting ready to become sexual, my teacher would also make it clear to the students whose religion prohibits premarital sex that abstinence is always an option (and is the only guaranteed method out there to be 100% free from the risk of an STI)!

Taking Health Class In School

There were so many opinions in our class! What age should you have sex, the best way to protect yourself if you do choose to become active, and how to respond to a partner wanting more than what you were ready to give were just a few. Although we wanted every discussion to run smoothly, it was inevitable that sometimes there was some bad behavior. There were jokes. There were some heated debates. But we all heard everyone. Our class was a safe space for all students.

As a girl in a school with mostly males, it was very easy to feel stigmatized. The media often portrays women as sex tools, which puts a burden on my shoulders. But this class also made me realize that stereotypes easily stigmatize guys too, and people don’t talk about that enough. The media often characterizes men as these crazed fanatics who constantly crave sex. In my health class, we made sure to be aware of these societal stereotypes.

Avoiding Stereotypes

I also learned so much during the sex ed unit about the real world. From gender to race, I could connect these issues to my life.  I learned that the Black and Latino communities are more likely to be affected by STDs and STIs. This is because we often live in low-income communities where we do not always receive health care, and where sometimes there are drugs or tattoo parties. When users share needles, this means that the transmission of bodily fluids can occur and the risk of an infection increases. As a young woman of color in a school serving predominantly Black and Latino kids, it is so important to learn how to stop the systematic oppression of people of color by being part of the solution!

Health class, and sex ed in particular, provided me with the knowledge to make the best choices for myself and within my community.

Most importantly, it made me realize that everyone feels pressured, and that as the new generation, we should be the ones to change these practices by having real conversations with each other.


Nisa Ward will be a junior in high school and attends school in the New York City public school system.

Nisa Ward

Nisa Ward will be a junior in high school and attends school in the New York City public school system.