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The First Time I Heard About S-E-X

By , 18, Staff Writer Originally Published: June 4, 2009 Revised: August 28, 2012

During my sixth grade English class, we’d work in groups on in-class book reports, but my group always got sidetracked. We’d end up chatting amongst ourselves about how the Backstreet Boys were still cool and how Kelley Clarkson was definitely going to win American Idol. However, one day, the topic of our whispered conversations suddenly shifted from American Idol to masturbation and sex.

“Do you know what masturbation is?” my friend asked.

“Isn’t that a form of writing?” I responded.

After the laughter had cooled down, my friend whispered, “Masturbation is when someone tries to feel good by touching…down there.” Intrigued and interested, I began to ask my friends about sex and sexuality.

Having grown up in an Asian-American household where sex is never mentioned, I had no idea what masturbation or sex was. Perhaps the only clue that I had about sex was from the little box on medical forms labeled “sex,” which asked for my gender. Nevertheless, because sex was never mentioned to me or discussed openly by the adults I trusted, I looked for information from what happened to be unreliable sources. By the time I reached seventh grade health class, I had a whole slew of misinformation about sex: If I use tampons I’m not a virgin, pregnancy could be avoided if the guy pulled out and sexually transmitted diseases couldn’t be caught through anal sex. In the end, I found myself trying to untangle the web of myths and lies that had become my sex education.

From whispering in English class to dinner table conversations, everyone has learned about sex in different ways. Despite these differences in experience, one thing is always absolutely necessary when it comes to sex and sexuality: the truth. While some of us may have received misinformation and others may have had a stellar sexual health education, accurate and honest information is vital. It’s vital for healthy sexual development into adulthood, and it’s vital so that the next generation will never be left thinking that masturbation is a form of writing.

The First Time

Yeah, I was in second grade and an older girl, a third grader, was telling me she wanted to have sex with me. I told my parents excitedly, and they got offended and explained what sex was.
—Jeffrey, 15, NJ 

The first time I heard about sex was at a friend’s house when I was seven. We were playing Barbies, and she told me that she had walked into her parents’ bathroom and found them taking a shower together and kissing and touching and such. Then she wanted to show me what she meant with the Barbies. I made the comment that my parents kissed all the time, and I could not understand why adults would want to lay on top of each other.
—Lindsay, 16, GA 

The first time I learned about sex, I said to myself, “I’m never doing that in my life.” Then again, I still thought boys had cooties.
—Cristina, 16, NJ

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