The prevailing belief among Marlborough Upper School students is that our ninth grade health curriculum doesn’t provide a sexual education program that discusses safer sex methods for same-sex couples. Members of Alliance expressed relief and gratitude that an article exposing this supposed oversight in Marlborough’s health program was finally being brought to light.
However, all forms of contraception and STD prevention are introduced and explored in our health classes. Condoms? The pill? Diaphragms? Dental Dams? Latex Gloves? You name it. The true question is why can’t anyone seem to remember this extensive list after ninth grade?
Tinka Brown, one of our most beloved PE teachers, health instructors and impromptu life coaches, insists that she covers all the bases in terms of giving 9th graders a sexual health program that is informative, accessible, and expansive. She said she intends for the health program to provide an age appropriate introduction to sexual health for all, and she never attempts to tailor her classes to a heterosexual majority.
No matter how accurate this exploration of ninth grade health may be, there is still an unsettling reality highlighting a glaring oversight in the Marlborough health curriculum. How effective can a survey course on sexual health be if students are not retaining the valuable information they got at 14 or 15? Here lies the problem. We’re still in a constant process of becoming. We know very little about who we are, what we’re about, and whom we love.
In ninth grade, my body felt like a strange shell that I just happened to inhabit. I came to health class hoping for a sense of validation to ease my concerns about being “abnormal.” Compound all of the uncertainty of being a teenage girl with the added difficulty of being a queer or questioning teen. How can we be expected to know whom we are attracted to and feel comfortable enough to announce this to the world?
At fourteen, many of us had yet to formulate the questions about identity and sexual health that we have today. Every student should be given the opportunity to revisit the full breadth of ninth grade health, while delving even deeper into subject matter more applicable to us as increasingly developed young women.
Surely, a program like this would provide LGBTQ students with a health class that serves them when they are ready and able to take in information they may have pushed away when they were younger and less sure of themselves. Mostly, an upper school health program would speak to Marlborough’s strength in fostering a kind of growth that encompasses and is rooted in wellness in all respects. Questioning is not just a “gay” thing. Questioning is our human prerogative. We should have all the room in the world to explore and develop. We never stop growing. Why should our curriculum?
Article by contributor Kelsey.