Tern and I have been teaching sex ed to the kids since they were, oh, I don’t know, three years old or so. Age-appropriate sex ed. Parts of the body at first, and personal autonomy. Then what puberty will do, making sure that both kids know what happens to girls and boys. (And making the point that while this is the mainstream, that there are smaller numbers of people who experience sexuality differently, and that is rarer but perfectly normal.)
These days sex ed is more about the biomechanical details. How does pregnancy occur? How are STIs transmitted? How do you prevent these things, as the male or female partner? How does it change or not change in same-sex relations? How do IUDs work? Diaphrams? Spermicidal gels? The pill? Condoms?
My kids are at the age where they are totally chill with these concepts and terms. They get a little bit “eeewwwww” when it comes to more motivational questions. Why do people have sex? (Because to most people it feels better than almost anything. “Eeewwww.”) What counts as sex? (People don’t agree about this, so make sure you clarify your terms before agreeing to anything.) And et cetera.
We have these conversations with the kids about every four months. The specific content varies. We also cover rape, date rape, and consent. We cover dating, and asking people out, and taking no for an answer, and how to deal with a yes. We introduce concepts of the variability of the human body, of the variety of responses people can have.
I want my kids, when they reach the point in their lives that they start to want starting to be sexually active, to have some idea of the theory of what they might want to be doing. And to understand that there is a lot of scope to choose from. That other people may want other things, and that many of those other things are perfectly fine and nice, possibly worth trying or possibly not.
It’s a confusing and fraught world, sex is. We’re trying to build a traveler’s guide.