Of all the units in the Human Biology series, Sexuality is clearly the most difficult to teach. The reason for this is not because it is the most technical or conceptually challenging. Rather, it is due to the fact that everyone-teachers, students, parents, and members of the community- are likely to feel some degree of uneasiness about the topics covered. This uneasiness may range from mild concerns on how to best teach the subject of sex to vehement opposition to its teaching in any shape or form.
This is not the place for us to dwell on the politics of sex education in schools. Obviously, you will need to operate within the constraints that hold true for your school. Our assumption is that you will have a reasonable degree of freedom to teach the subject. So the question is how best to do it.
Ideally, a balanced sex education course focuses on the positive aspects of sexual experience as well as its potential negative consequences. All too often, students are presented with an inexorable list of “bad news,” or are conveyed a list of “don'ts” with a few “dos” that are hardly worth doing.
Our own presentation in this unit has an element of this approach, although we do make some attempt to convey the sunnier side of sex as well. This is because we are mindful of the concerns that sex education not be perceived as encouraging sexual activity; that it is possible to teach about sex without advocating it.
In addition to the informational content described so far, let us briefly consider how the sections cluster around major problems. This will help you to anticipate the sequence of topics. Moreover, it would be equally instructive to tell your students at the outset the story line of how the section will unfold.
The opening cluster consists of the first two sections dealing with friendships and romantic attachments without a specific sexual focus. This should make it possible to ease students into the unit.
The second cluster (Sections 3 and 4) is clearly sexual. It starts with a description of the bodily reactions during sexual stimulation and response and goes on to describe the major types of sexual behavior.
The third cluster (beginning with Section 5) switches to the problematic aspects of sex by addressing problems of sexual exploitation, abuse, and coercion. It is followed by a discussion of sexually transmitted diseases (Sections 6 and 7). Finally, we consider the question of how should we behave sexually (rather than just why and how). Sexual morality, decision making, and placing sex in perspective are the components of this last section (9).
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Professor of Human Biology-Project Steering Committee