How to Teach Sexual Health

I really enjoy teaching sex ed, however if you’ve never taught it before, it can be intimidating. Here are some tips to help you through.

I have 3 rules I tell this students at the beginning of the very first lesson.

  1. We use anatomically correct language in class e.g. testicles, not balls. This means we are not using slang to describe anything, but correct language. If they don’t know it, they can ask.
  2. Students are allowed to laugh and giggle (there is usually quite a lot of that), however we are not laughing at people for their questions or comments.
  3. There are no personal comments or questions allowed, only general ones. For example, students are not to tell us what they personally do and they are not to ask what the teacher does, only what do people do.

Another tip is to have a box where students can put in questions. I try to answer as many of these as I can, however there is not always time. I stress that this is for actual questions only as sometimes students use it to put in silly questions. Also, if a student asks something in class and I’m not sure of the answer, I ask them to write it down and put it in the box and I will try to address it at a later time (after I find out the answer).

Often students are embarrassed and will hide or giggle or call out. Remember that much of the behaviour is due to their anxiety and give students time to calm down a bit. Reassure them that it is normal to be nervous and proceed confidently to help them see it is ok (it is ok to fake the confidence at first!).

Other times, students may try to shock you with their “experience” or comments/questions. In this case, I remind students of the many sexually transmitted infections and some of the symptoms they can experience if not using protection – and sometimes, even if they do use protection. This helps students see the reality of their comments and often prevents further incidents.

The goal is to get the students talking and thinking in a real way about their own sexual health and safety. It can also be fun!


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