I grew up in Washington County, Utah. I vaguely remember in high school talking about STDs for one day—my class wasn’t "sex ed," it was "health class," so only a small portion of the year was focused on sex. I was a naive, LDS, 16 year old and knew little to nothing about sex. I had a close cousin that was very open about her life and most of what I learned came from her. She even taught me how to use tampons, bless her soul.
Later when I graduated from college and had a serious boyfriend, I was faced with sexual things I didn’t understand. What was sex? What “counted” as sex? When did I know I was ready for sex? Because I didn't have the answers to a lot of my questions, I was taken advantage of by my boyfriend at the time. I remember thinking, “I should want to do this because I love him and he loves me," “He wouldn’t hurt me,” “This is what I should do?” I wasn't ready to have sex and had told him that many times. I was afraid! Feeling pressure and my not really understanding what sex was, he went further than what I was ready for. We dated for a year or so and the whole time I kept thinking, “This is what I should be doing, right?” because I didn’t know what I wanted, how I wanted it, what I felt comfortable doing, what I didn’t feel comfortable doing. So it ended up with me doing whatever he wanted. I think we used a condom once. It’s seriously a miracle I didn’t get pregnant. I wasn’t on any birth control whatsoever.
The most ironic thing was that my mom got pregnant in high school. She had a lifetime of knowledge she could have shared with me, but she was afraid I would end up in the same place as her—a single teenage mother. Her withholding that information from me just made me more likely to become that. I didn’t understand things so I didn’t know how to stay away from them. Not giving people information doesn’t protect them, it weakens their chances of being successful. We need to educate our children, siblings, and friends to help them navigate their sex life so that they can have a successful sex life! Education is power. Educate on sex.