John Oliver On Sex Education In America [VIDEO]

Via the Week:

On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver tackled sex education in American middle and high schools. He started with the basics. “Parental anger over sex ed is as much a staple of the school year as square pizza and one kid coming back from summer vacation with a mustache he’s way too proud of,” said Oliver, who did not attend U.S. schools. But “teaching sex ed in school is really important, for obvious reasons: No parent wants to talk to their kids about sex, and no kid wants to talk about sex with their parents.” When Last Week Tonight tried to learn what kids are learning in America’s schools, however, they ran into a wall: There are no standards for what to teach kids about sex, federally or sometimes even locally. Only 22 states require sex ed, Oliver noted, and only 13 require that the information be medically accurate. Viewers of this clip will get to see a lot of really bad sex-ed videos, and learn some discouraging statistics.

Did your school have sex ed? Mine sure didn’t.

  • Hardley

    Hey Joe, liking the new format website.
    It loads much faster.

  • Grant

    We got a bunch of medically inaccurate bullshit, followed by a “peer mentoring” team explaining that if you ever want to fuck outside of marriage, don’t. It’s that simple!

    • JT

      And, of course, they mean “traditional” marriage.

  • e jerry powell

    I went to a magnet high school where the two-semester health course was offered as a one-semester class, primarily for pre-med but mostly for the magnet students who didn’t want to take a year to cover material that could be dealt with in less time. Our teacher was very pointed about what the district would “allow” him to teach, but the class being filled with the type-A valedictorian competitors, it’s not like he needed to hit us with any “new” material that hadn’t been approved by the Christianists downtown.

    As I remember it, only one girl walked graduation pregnant, and she was already married. My best friend from high school did die of AIDS, but that was five years after we graduated, and it didn’t come from lack of knowledge so much as lack of vigilance combined with no small amount of nihilism.

    The only — and completely unsolicited — criticism I have of the new blog style is the grey blockquote text on a white background. It seems to be one of those things everybody’s doing with their site overhauls, mainly in places where the content generators don’t care whether old people can read or not. Other than that, peachy keen.

  • Sex ed in Texas in the mid-1970s?


    • DaddyRay

      So no change from Sex ed in Texas in 2015

    • Mark

      I thought it was a 3-legged stool and some ol heifer……

      • Careful, you’ll get schoolmarmed for maligning Maggie.

  • Of course, quality sex ed looks like this! Yes, that includes you. And also you.

  • Charlie 2001

    They didn’t have any sex-ed in high school but in Junior High they showed Boy’s Beware to males. You can watch it on YouTube. After the film finished the gym teacher who was leading the class said “That is what fags are”.

    • Todd20036

      I blame the parents as much as the school

  • Puckfair52

    Wonderful format

  • Mark

    Circa: 1972, Hollywood , Fl (10th grade)

    As a student assistant, I sometimes got to grade tests for the biology teachers. One test, on the parts of the grasshopper, seemed to have a bad question as just about everybody had the wrong answer. I told the teacher alot of students had the wrong answer. She asked me if their answer was ‘close’ or just mis-spelled. Nope. I told her it wasn’t even close, and if it was mis-spelled – everybody was mis-spelling it the same way. So, she asks me what the correct answer was. I tell her: Mandible. So, from across the room she asks me what answer everybody is writing in. I tell her i don’t know the pronunciation. She – now annoyed – tells me to spell it. So, I did.


    She began laughing her ass off – ran out of the room, down the hall to the teacher’s lounge…laughing. Then I hear more laughing. Roaring would be more exact.

    And that was my first and only lesson in sex education at school. Thank you, Daniel Webster.

  • Porkie
  • Ninja0980

    Not only is there no sex ed, there are laws punishing teenagers who dare to engage in the crime of having sex.
    There are way too many people on sex offender lists whose only crime is having sex with their 14 or 15 year old bf/gf when they were 16 or 17 or younger.
    And when it is pointed out to lawmakers how it ruins their lives and how it makes it harder to keep track of true predators, their response basically is along the lines of the law is the law and they should have waited.
    It’s disguisting, it truly is.

    • Yes that is certainly part of the problem. One big step there would be standardizing the age of consent across the US to 16. In the US the age of consent is 16 in 31 states, 17 in 8 states and 18 in 11 states. So the majority is set at 16 we just need to get the rest of the states there as well and then also standardize the federal age of consent to 16 as it is currently at 18.

      • Mark

        I like the way they move the goal posts around also. It’s 16 for consent – but only if you consent with somebody that’s within your age group. But! as soon as you hit 18 – you can fuck anybody you want except anyone that is under 18 cuz you aren’t in that age group anymore. But at 16 – you can go all the way up to 17 years, 364 days and be A-ok! WTF?

  • Todd20036

    I actually had decent sex education in school They taught us about VDs (as they were called at the time), the mechanics of a menses period, and the gesticulation of an embryo. It was quite secular, so though they mentioned abstinence in passing, it was not a major theme. Note that I went to high school in a suburb of Chicago, and later in a suburb of Philadelphia (after my parents moved)

    • olandp

      Gesticulating embryos? Oh dear!

      • Fyva Prold

        That;s when it shows you a middle finger on ultrasound

  • AndyinChicago

    Since sex is usually had for fun, sex for pleasure needs to be taught in school to ensure people do that safely. People aren’t only fucking to have kids, and so sex ed needs more than just how a fallopian tube works. Fallopian tubes don’t matter in sex for pleasure.

    • Fyva Prold

      “Sex for pleasure” that’s the part that they’re opposed to most.

      • Steve Teeter

        Dan Savage told how his young son once confronted him with a stern look and said, “You and Daddy are having sex for no reason! Two men can’t make a baby!!”

        Dan realized that he, arguably the best sex advice columnist in the country, had totally left out sex for pleasure when instructing his own child. It was a lesson.

        • B Snow

          The look on Dan’s face must have been the definition of “gobsmacked”. 🙂

        • William

          Tell the kid that it’s good exercise.

          • Steve Teeter

            He’s in his teens now. I think he’s figured it out.

  • JuanGalicia

    I remember i had sex ed in Jr Hogh School which looking back was surprising considering it was a private catholic school >.> Also i cant remember it being innacurate, they were quite graphicactually 😛 … Oh and this was in Monterrey, Mexico , i wonder if its still the same tho.

  • Hue-Man

    I’ll admit to no first-hand experience other than the horrifying sex-ed film I saw at school. I can’t imagine a parent saying to his/her child “Well, let’s talk about sex today”. Worse, the very people who criticize school’s tackling this subject are the ones least likely to have an intelligent discussion about the topic.

    Here’s Toronto Star: “Fact-checking 10 claims made by parents against the Ontario sex-ed curriculum”

    • Thanks for the link. Those evil beings were tossing around a lot of misinformation, geesh!

    • William

      I know a nurse/social worker who did the whole sex talk with her son, including the banana and condom. As she told me the story, I alternated between squirming in my seat at the horror and laughing hysterically. Poor kid. Great mom.

  • Stev84

    Historically inaccurate – or at least incomplete – history classes are also very common in America.

  • We had sex Ed back in Virginia. I don’t remember much about it other than they separated the guys from the girls, we had a male teacher and as he discussed it all the guys were trying to hide the bonkers in their pants.

  • Bj Lincoln

    In the 5th grade, the boys and girls were separated then shown a movie about our parts and how they work. Old black and white movies with no instruction on how to use them. Health class in high school covered the same thing only we were not separated. We were told about STD’s but again, not how the parts worked or how you can get them. My mom was my Girl Scout leader and wanted to teach sex ed. She had to have permission from each parent. One girl was not allowed but we filled her in later. We were able to ask questions and once we got comfortable, the real questions started. There was also a question box to drop your question in if you were uncomfortable. I remember hearing my mom talking to her friend about the kinds of questions in the box and how she was going to answer them. I learned more then than anything in school.

    • medaka

      Mom sounds like a very cool person 🙂

    • William

      In 7th grade, all the girls went to the auditorium to watch a movie about ‘girly time’. The boys were sent to the cafeteria to learn about head lice.

  • Phil

    Yes. One semester, required for graduation from HS, usually done in freshman year. It was also one of the first schools in the area to have both males and females in the class together, and was taught by a female teacher. As much as I can remember, it was pretty accurate information, medically. BTW this was in 1974.

    There were also a couple of brief modules in Jr. HS, starting in 6th grade.

  • David Walker

    Did my school have sex ed? I think maybe I went to school before sex was invented. Or discovered. Teenage girls just sort of disappeared for a couple of months and then came back, but that’s because an aunt or uncle or gramps was sick and she had to take care of. Sex? No way. We were a notch in the bible belt, so there was no sex.

  • #SnakeMurderers

  • GunnaHurt

    My school had “sex education” but it was so benign it was hard to see how it relates to sex. We were told stories about how “Sally made bad decisions like dropping out of school and not holding a steady job and Cathy made good decisions like studying hard and not dating until she was 18.”

    We were told “we will only talk about sex as it happens between married couples” and when one of the contrarian egghead students asked “do unmarried people do it differently?” The teacher made him go stand in the hall.

    Sex Ed was such a joke. I think maybe they taught us the same “reproductive system” stuff they’d taught us in grade school but threw in lessons about STDS and unwanted pregnancies.

  • The problem with sex ed in the US is that for the most part its anti-sex. It’s not “here’s how to have sex in a safe and responsible manner” rather its “don’t have any sex until you’re a married adult because anything outside of that is something that is harmful and dangerous” allowing gay couples to get married already messed with this anti-sex position because now the “wait for marriage” positon can include gay people which they don’t like. The next step is to go after the idea that sex is something that teens need to be protected from and this is something that needs to include improving what sex ed looks like and defunding abstinence only programs.

    • Mark

      the ultimate in forbidden fruits of life!

    • Steve Teeter

      My sex ed class actually had a gay man come in and talk about his life. But this was in Berkeley, CA.

  • Mark

    I got a feeling that by the time the schools get around to ‘teaching’ it – the youngins have already aced the course.

  • bambinoitaliano

    Those evangelists/procreationists have everyone believe the sole purpose of having sex is to procreate. If that’s the case they should only allow to have one f*ck and wait for a few months. If the sperm take, they should wait for the birth of that child before allowing to have a second f*ck. Since genitals and sex are such yucky and sinful objects and behavior according to their teaching.

    • Steve Teeter

      I’ve always thought that would be reasonable. But who said they were reasonable?

  • Stev84

    Though I have to say, the condom/sock thing was pretty great.

  • jomicur

    As usual, an excellent, incisive segment. Unfortunately the same thing could be said about any other variety of what-passes-for education in far too many American schools. History? No, that might offend the tea-party clowns. Science? Nope, the Christians might scream about that. Etc., etc. Most of our schools are run by petty bureaucrats, and like all petty bureaucrats everywhere they are afraid of their own shadows and terrified anyone might make waves of any kind. (And in far too many cases they actually agree with the above groups.) The big problem with poor (or absent) sex education is that it impacts students’ health. The net effect is to withhold from kids information that could save their lives.

  • CityWOOF

    In sixth grade we had the Big Day when the boys went into one room and the girls went into another room and films were watched. I don’t remember anything about the films, other than everyone giggling when pubic hair was discussed and presented. My parents had already purchased a book for me called “How Babies Are Made”, plus I had been a frequent visitor to my dad’s porn stash since I learned how to pull open a drawer, so I pretty much felt like I knew what there was to know anyway.

  • James

    The boys at my school were given a talk which was basically “if you’re sitting on the subway and a man starts touching your leg, run away.”

    • William

      Were the details about which subway? I need to know the line and best times.

  • Crimminy

    In 6th grade (1991), we had two grade-wide assemblies (one for boys, one for girls) about things like pimples, menstruation, and not getting too intimate with students of the opposite sex.

    In 7th or 8th grade (1992 or 93), we had a week of sex education, taught by the Health teacher (a woman). We all had to get permission slips from our parents to be allowed to attend. One day, boys and girls were split into separate rooms to talk about the specifics of their reproductive organs. (Because learning about fallopian tubes will traumatize a boy, or learning about vas deferens will traumatize a girl?) The rest of the week was a monotone somewhat-inaccurate explanation of PiV intercourse, a long explanation of gestation, and a couple of days dedicated to STDs. IIRC, at one point, it involved a couple of students dancing to a song by DC Talk (maybe?), but I don’t recall which one.

    • William

      I went through Sex-Ed in Virginia in the 6th grade and in Texas, in the 11th grade. Neither class explained exactly how the sperm got from the penis to the vagina. It didn’t help that the Texas class was taught by one of our more ‘butch’ woman coaches. I don’t think she had ever been confronted with a loaded penis. One of the girls in the class was from the Philippines. When we reached childbirth, she took over instruction because she had helped deliver several babies and knew much more than the teacher or the book. .

  • TallBearNC

    I’m 44 years old and was born in May 1971. When I was in the seventh and eighth-grade we were taught sex education in the state of California. This was mandatory. However, a parent could fill out a form saying to opt out their children based on personal or religious beliefs. sex education we got was pretty graphic and pretty detailed. By the time it was done, you knew exactly how to make a baby. It did not show anything pornographic, and it was all done in animation form. But it definitely showed a penis entering into a vagina and all the stages that a man goes through up through excitement all the way up to orgasm… Then from there exactly where the sperm goes and what their job is. They also did this the same way for the female. I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of a more liberal sex education program than this. This was taught at Cunah (sp), Junior high school in half Moon Bay California, and for those who are not familiar with that location – that’s about a half an hour drive over the West Bay mountains from San Francisco California… a very liberal area

    I think that’s how heterosexual sex education should exactly be taught in schools, and parents then can be given an option to opt out their children to teach it to them themselves, or opt out out for religious believes. In theory a situation like this should make any current right wing, religious person satisfied because they can always take their children out of it. Even if a child is gay or lesbian, I still think they should be taught how a baby is made. Why? Many gay and lesbian use will often force themselves to sleep with somebody of the opposite sex thinking that that will turn them straight – which it does not, and can result in a pregnancy. These individual should be armed with the information so that an accidental pregnancy does not occur.

    As far as gay sexual education… That’s where I have some issues – even though I’m gay. I do not think every student should be taught about anal sex and being shown on drawings of anal sex – or for lesbians animations of strap ons and dildos being used. The point of sex education is in school is to teach children responsibility about sex and pregnancy, and to stop the spread of STDs – but it was mainly about pregnancy to start with – and that’s not an issue with us gay people

    In my opinion, what I think “gay and lesbian sex education should be” would be something that would be added towards the end of the heterosexual sex education, and it would focus on safe sex, the proper use of condoms, Teaching kids how to properly ask people their STD and HIV status. Heck, all of this should also be included in heterosexual sex education anyway. But I do not think gay children need to be taught the details of what to do during a gay lesbian sexual encounter because there is no children – or I should say there’s no risk of pregnancy here. they should be taught responsibility, say sex, and that it is 0K if you are gay or lesbian. Now If parents don’t want their children exposed to this, they could have their children opted out to just this one segment for the whole program altogether. Like I said above well I don’t think they need to show videos on anal sex, children should be taught that anal sex is the number one, and the highest, and most dangerous way HIV gets transmitted – penile to anal, and penile to vaginal. The reverse is also true but with much lower chances – but that should also be taught as well. I think his schools focus more on the consequences versus the actual how to of gay and lesbian sex, religious people would calm down quite a bit

    So that’s why don’t understand why religious leaders are having a freak out over sex ed. I’ve heard them say his parents up kids out, that those kids will be teased and bullied, etc. etc. I don’t buy into that.

    So in summary, I don’t think we should have a separate sex ed class. Everything should be taught in one big class, and parents could either opt in or opt out their child, or opt out just for the gay portion, and for the gay portion those students could be sent to the library or something like that for the remainder of the class, a that part of the education would not show up on test for students who have opted out of that part.

    For most parents, teaching their children about sexual education and responsibility is a nightmare, and I would think those parents would be grateful that the school is doing it so they do not have to, but if they do not believe in what the school is teaching, than those parents have a responsibility to teach their children themselves… However,, A parent also has the right to teach their children nothing and teach abstinence – which I don’t agree with that method of teaching, but parents do have that right

    I have had two children in my lifetime, and I have never had problems teaching them about sexual education. They are both straight. One a boy and One of girl. Me and their mothers / fathers taught then every single detail about sexual education, consequences, and safe sex. Some of you may have noticed I put fathers in there because in both cases I was basically a sperm donor – however I never surrendered my parental rights because we all agreed to parent the children equally… And this was all a long long time ago – once when I was 15, and again when I was 22. I received a full-blown sexual education when I was seven years old but my parents directly – mostly because we went to a nudist colony each summer so I had many questions. With my parents being fairly liberal, they answered them, and taught me and my brother sexual education, consequences, and safe sex – but HIV really wasn’t around very much in the mid-1970s for the 7-8-year-old age group LOL. It was basically how not to catch an STD

    Me being a Surrogate father at the age of 15 is a whole Nother story which was my choice to do, and wish my parents approved – and I was a very mature 15-year-old and new exactly what I was doing and getting myself into (donating for a very good friends of the family because the husband had testicular cancer, and my father could not do it because he had had a vasectomy, and they really wanted his gene pool)

  • ColdCountry

    Sex ed? Whuzzat? Born in 1950, here. I remember going to a talk on… reproduction?… at one of the churches with my older sister, but don’t remember much about it. In high school, mostly I remember that you shouldn’t get pregnant. I really have almost no recollection of where my “information” came from, but I do know I didn’t know much. When I went to college, they gave all the freshmen a survey on sexual attitudes, opinions, and knowledge. I remember being slightly appalled that I scored in the top 15% for knowledge, ’cause I knew very little. Could 85% of my fellow students know even LESS? It didn’t seem possible.