by Daniela Vallez
When I tell people what I do, people usually are quick to tell me their story about how they never had a class on sex education, or they explain how awkward it was. When I ask them why it was so awkward, they usually tell me that their teacher was so uncomfortable speaking about it was just awkward for everyone. I was fortunate to have grown up around people who were not afraid to talk about sex. I had my parents, aunts, cousins, my sixth grade sex education teacher and most importantly Ms. M.
I remember the exact moment I knew I wanted to teach sex education. During my freshman year of high school, I was sitting around during cheerleading practice when one of the seniors started complaining about “the pill.” I had no idea what they meant but I didn’t want to look dumb so I went along with it. That’s when my cheerleading coach/home ec/sex ed teacher, Ms. M, changed my life. She brought out her most prized possession (at least I thought so); a beautiful Longaberger basket with what seemed like all the birth control in the world. She sat down with us and started pulling out pills, condoms, cervical caps, shots, spermicides, etc. I swear she had it all! As she pulled stuff out she explained how they worked. The older girls knew what everything was because they had heard it all before but I was enthralled; at that moment I made it my goal to learn about every single thing in that basket. And that’s when I knew, I had to teach sex education.
Although I loved that basket, I was also impressed at how comfortable she was talking about sex. She put us all at ease. Ms. M had a flair for the dramatics so she threw a few scare tactics out there but it was cool because we all appreciated her. She was giving us honest and open information that we were not receiving anywhere else. She never told us what to do but she provided us with the information we needed to make a decision for ourselves. She was my hero. During the rest of my high school years anytime someone had a question about sex education, I took them to see Ms. M. If she was there, and let’s be honest, even if she wasn’t there, I would bust out that basket and have the talk.
That is why I started teaching sex education. Now, 15 years later, I keep teaching because I love it. It really is that simple. The students, adults, parents, teachers, everyone we work with make it worth it. I love that we give back to the community and that we are doing a service. I get to go into classrooms, jails, homes, clinics, you name it, we are there, and I get to give people honest and open information. We empower people to make decisions that are best for them. When people leave our groups they know that they are in control of their sex lives. They know that they deserve to have healthy relationship and that they don’t urinate from the vagina or that if they drink Mt. Dew their penis will not shrink. They know they can trust us that we aren’t embarrassed to say penis or vagina and they know that we are here.
"Why I Teach Sex Ed" profiles sexuality educators throughout the nation. This column appears each Monday. If you teach sex ed and would like to tell your story, send your submission, in 350-700 words, to Bill@SexEdStore.com.