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Pornhub is Better at Sex Ed Than Our Schools. Anyone Else Think That’s a Problem?

Pornhub is Better at Sex Ed Than Our Schools. Anyone Else Think That’s a Problem?: Srongkrod / Getty

Srongkrod / Getty

Sex education in this country has always been dismal, but now that Dimwit DeVos is at the helm of the Department of Education and conservative state legislators are newly empowered by a pro-ignorance movement in government, it’s only going to get worse. Luckily, we have porn to fill the gaps.

We’ve known for years that teens are learning more about sex from pornography than from parents or health classes. And in case you missed it, in early February, the good people at Pornhub stepped up to accept their incidental role as sex educators by launching the Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center, an online resource that’s already more comprehensive than most high school sex education programs. Led by clinical psychologist Dr. Laurie Betito, the site features a wide variety of content on topics ranging from HIV/AIDS to transgender terminology to navigating and building healthy relationships as well as a page titled “What is Consent?”. There’s also a page on antidepressants and sexual dysfunction, a list of top erotic positions for lesbians and explanations of every STI under the sun. It’s everything sex education should be.

In contrast, only 20 states require that schools provide any form of sex education at all. Even in those states, the discussion is usually limited to scare campaigns about sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancy. In recent years, a few states have caught on to the importance of including discussions of consent in their sex education programs, but the vast majority leave hormone-riddled teenagers to navigate that crucial and sometimes-murky territory on their own-not to mention the important (and ignored) topic of mutual pleasure. Many public sex educators, who themselves are inadequately trained, portray sex as clinical, not as a fun, fulfilling and normal part of adulthood.

Negative attitudes toward sex are especially obvious in the 26 states that mandate abstinence be taught as the safest and best option, despite the fact that this approach has been proven not to work. A 2007 a federal report, for example, showed that abstinence-only programs were ineffective in preventing teen sexual activity. That means young people were still having sex without having been taught how to do it safely. Case in point: states with abstinence-only sex education have the highest rates of teen pregnancy.

Many schools don’t give their students condoms because they think that’ll only encourage them to have sex. This is also proven to be false. Condom access doesn’t lead to more sex, only safer sex—withholding condoms as a way of preventing sex is like slashing seatbelts because driving can be dangerous.

In addition to these counterproductive, harmful approaches to pregnancy prevention in heterosexual sex, several states prohibit sex education teachers from addressing homosexuality, bisexuality or issues of gender identity entirely. This exclusion only adds to isolation and confusion many LGBTQ youth already feel and contributes to hostile attitudes among peers by reinforcing the notion that homosexual sex is abnormal.

But teenagers aren’t stupid; they know there’s more to learn about sex than anatomical diagrams, gestational calendars and photos of genital warts. They want to know the practical stuff, like how to do it and what it’s going to feel like. With such limited information available to them, it’s no surprise that teens are turning to the most accessible—and free—representations of sex: pornography.

Critics have long argued that porn gives teens—and adults for that matter—a distorted image of sex, setting up unrealistic expectations of what bodies should look like, how orgasms happen and how women should be treated. These are valid fears, but the warped portrayal of sex that’s available in porn is still more comprehensive—and closer to being accurate—than what most students get from public school sex education programs.

If the bureaucratic Department of Education and the evangelicals who have destroyed school sex education are going to deny teens access to the information they need to have happy, healthy, safe sex lives, they have to get it somewhere. Until now, they’ve had to cobble together the limited, misleading information they get at school with the overdramatized, unrealistic portrayals they find in porn, and hope that somewhere between the two they’ll find something close to the truth. But Pornhub, a representative of an industry so often demonized, has stepped in to provide the straight-talking, practical support and information they need. Kudos to them.

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