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What I wish I'd learnt in sex ed

Wednesday 30th March 2016

Can you get pregnant from thinking about sex? Is this I gay? Why is my dick so hard? Why is there blood here? Is this porn misogynistic? Is a human centipede really possible? 

Questions we all need answers to, but are young Kiwis getting the necessary information in high school sex education? 

Sex ed has been taught in Kiwi schools since 1999 and last year, the Ministry of Education released an updated guide for schools on teaching sexuality which addresses issues of consent, coercion, and cultural differences. Ka pai.  

But while sex ed is a compulsory part of the curriculum, schools are free to decide how they teach it - so what we learn (and don’t learn) can vary wildly from one school to the next.

We hit the streets to find out what you learnt in high school sex education and what you wished you'd been told.


Phoebe, 20

Photo: Mava Moayyed

“There was a real focus on how you had to be in a relationship to be having sex, otherwise it wasn’t okay. Sex ed seemed to focus more on relationships and less on sex itself.

“It would have been good to learn how it doesn't have to be initiated by the male all the time. As a female you don't have to be embarrassed about wanting to initiate sex.”


Liam, 22

Photo: Mava Moayyed

They taught us safe sex and everything but I just don’t think sex is as big of a deal as they made it out to be. They made it this big thing when it’s not really. Well, not for everybody.

“Honestly, I wasn’t a very good student. I didn’t pay attention. It was pretty funny watching the condom being put on the banana. It wasn’t particularly useful. It didn’t do any harm, but it didn’t do me any good.” 


Hendy, 32

Photo: Mava Moayyed

“We didn’t even get sex education in my country [Indonesia]. I believe because it’s quite a religious country, sex is hardly discussed at all so I had to find out information from university friends.

“It would have been good to know what you can catch from sexual activity. Everyone was watching porn, you know, but it’s not always safe in the movies.”


Anne, 28

Photo: Mava Moayyed

“I was away on sport tournaments and I actually missed sex education at school. I remember because people were making jokes about it later I had no idea what they were talking about.”

“Later on you had to pick to do health in order to get the education so I missed out then, too, because I didn’t pick that subject.”

“I think having more awareness of the queer community – not just LGBTQ but about intersex relationships and stuff – would have been good. If we learnt that in high school we would be able to stop discrimination and bullying. Discrimination comes from a lack of understanding so there should be more education around it.”


Liam, 18

Photo: Mava Moayyed

“I think what I learnt in sex education was all I needed to know. Maybe it would have been good to just know how to get more support if you needed it like going to the doctors or family planning. I remember we did get taught about abstinence, though. I went to an all-boys school.” 


Beverley, 19

Photo: Mava Moayyed

“I didn’t learn much at all. I learnt how to put a condom on a cucumber which was pretty unrealistic. South Auckland school. Classic."
“I wish we'd learnt more about safe sex, especially in high school. Not just protected sex because everyone gets the gist of it, but being safe and knowing your limits, beliefs, and being true to yourself is important.”


Roman, 25

Photo: Mava Moayyed

“We were taught more about the biology rather than actual sex. We weren’t taught how you get into that situation in the first place. We weren’t taught about safe sex at all; we were more taught about “this is what happens to your testicles, they get hairy” kind of thing.”

“There honestly was actually nothing taught on sex or what happens during sex. Maybe it would have been good if we'd learnt about what society expects of sexually active males and what is appropriate behaviour.”


Daniela, 27

Photo: Mava Moayyed

“I had good sex education, I think it was pretty accurate. Although, they put a tampon in a glass of water and my guy friend thought that's what happens inside a woman everytime she has her period.
“I do wish we had learnt how to recognise abusive relationships.”

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