It’s official: sex education in schools is pretty much the most uncomfortable class, but arguably one of the most important. Sex is a topic shrouded moral taboo. Sex and health are tiptoed around by many people, yet health teacher Mark Blaesser works to break these social norms and taboos.
“Sex education is a vital part of health education,” said Blaesser.
This topic helps people gain the skills and motivation to make healthy decisions and sex and sexuality.
“Sex education is needed to navigate through relationships and maintain health,” said Blaesser.
Blaesser said that class topics include topics human development, sexual behavior, relationships along with health and covers subjects such as abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives.
“In this course almost any related topic is not off-limits to discuss,” said Blaesser.
Sex is an uncomfortable topic for many reasons, said Blaesser, such as “social expectations and ignorance towards the issue.”
In Blaesser’s classroom, students do activities and exercises to get past these embarrassing subjects.
“Some students are squeamish about the words ‘penis’ and ‘vagina,’ so to fix that we chant them as a class,” said Blaesser.
Ideally, children should be able to obtain information from their parents. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Parents often seem to assume their children will learn about healthy sexuality in school.
“The sex education course is taught to educate students who don’t have access to the information,” said Blaesser.
Sex education has also focused on abstinence or refraining from risky behavior. This program helps young people to change specific habits related to preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
“Abstinence is the only way to always prevent pregnancy and STDs,” said Blaesser.
Other faculty members seem to like Blaesser’s education techniques and his personality.
“Although he takes health seriously, he is relaxed and brings humor to the topic,” said Kevin Meadows, another Gull Lake High School physical educator. “He is also very open to questions and is willing to answer them.”
The Gull Lake High School health curriculum goes over a diverse number of topics such as tobacco and drug use, physical, mental, and social health and first aid and CPR.
The class goes through training to become cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certified and learn how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
The class uses CPR dummies to practice their CPR and AED skills.
“Health class is not only about sex education,” said Mark Blaesser. “The health class attempts to ward students away from drugs such as alcohol and tobacco.”
The curriculum educates students on the adverse effects of drug use and inappropriate prescription use.
“To simulate heavy alcohol use, we use goggles that impair vision. Students then do basic tasks like giving high fives or walking a straight line,” said Blasser.
The class also goes over healthy eating and exercise practices, and body dysmorphia issues such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.
“I think teaching these sensitive issues is crucial, especially to those who do have body dysmorphia,” said Blaesser.
Further, the class informs students about suicide and depression through The Gatekeeper Program.
“Students are taught the warning signs of depression and suicidal ideation in their friends,” said Blaesser. “Students are taught the first step in most emergencies.”
Although topics regarding sex and health tend to be taboo and uncomfortable to talk about, Blaesser takes every health topic seriously, yet implements enough humor and light-heartedness to get any high school student to comfortable in his classroom.