De-personalising discussions, questions and reflective tasks can massively reduce fear caused by a common misconception about RSE – that a good teacher of sex education shares personal stories and has relatable anecdotes for all RSE eventualities. In my experience, what young people want is an honest, factual, simple response to their question. They might have asked me when I first had sex or what is the most awful STI I have ever had, but actually what they want to know is far deeper than information about my personal history.
If you find yourself confronted with a question like, “When did you first have sex?”, you can respond by telling students the up-to-date average age of first sex within your area, which can be found using local public health data. In my area, the average age of first sexual intercourse is 16 – which leads nicely into conversations about the law and if people are conscious of the law or whether other factors contribute to the age of first sex.
It also lends itself to talking about if their perception of age of first sex is sexual intercourse, or if young people are sexually active before that age. In our area, we have data that revealed that when people did have sexual intercourse, they were between the age of 16-23. This introduces themes of culture, diversity, delay, sexuality, self-esteem and choice. All this without me having to reveal anything about my sexual experiences as a teenager in the late 80s, thank goodness!