11 Sex-Ed Horror Stories That Will Make You Cringe

Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“Don’t have sex — because you will get pregnant and die.”

Coach Carr’s famous line from Mean Girls may have premiered more than 12 years ago, but sadly, variations on his backwards, fear-mongering sex-education tactics are still alive today.

Currently, only 24 states in the U.S. require sex education to be taught in public schools. And when sex ed is taught, the curriculum is often not comprehensive — meaning: it doesn’t cover sexual decision-making, healthy relationships, or how to use contraceptives — even though research has shown that abstinence-only sex-ed programs don’t work. So while Mean Girls is a go-to comedy for movie night, the reality of abstinence-only sex education is nothing to laugh at.

But even for those of us who were lucky enough to receive comprehensive sex ed, there can still be that giggly, awkward factor when you put a group of high school or middle school aged people (or adults, for that matter) in a room together to talk about sex. (Side note: It’s 2016 — how messed up is it that a person has to be “lucky” to be taught crucial information about their bodies, contraception, STIs, consent, and healthy relationships?)

In a perfect world, talking about sex would be a comfortable experience at any age. After all, humans are sexual beings and sex is a totally normal, natural (and enjoyable!) part of life for most people. But unfortunately, a lot of society isn’t quite there yet. Plus, let’s face it: Sex ed can be horrifying.

Want proof? We asked R29 staffers, readers, and friends to share their most cringe-worthy sex-ed moments. From embarrassing slip-ups to straight-up misinformation and some of the most sexist nonsense we’ve ever heard, these moments taught us that people’s not-so-great sex-ed experiences fall all over the spectrum.
1 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“My eighth-grade health class was taught by a gym teacher I actually really loved, despite being the least athletic person, ever. But on the first day of the sex-ed unit, she kicked things off by shouting, ‘PENIS!,’ in the middle of a random sentence. The whole room went silent, except for the sound of one giggling 13-year-old: me. I was so embarrassed and became even more so when she explained that she'd done so to demonstrate that, when it comes to sex, we're all coming at it with different levels of maturity and comfort. In other words, I was evidently the most immature kid in the room. It was so mortifying that I think I barely paid attention to most of the actual sex ed for the rest of the unit, I was so self-conscious.” — Anna, 29
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2 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“In sixth grade, my health teacher gave us pledge worksheets. The idea was to fill in ‘pledges’ on when/if we will ever participate in sex, drugs, and alcohol. Afterwards, the teacher reviewed the pledges with each student. I remember I wrote, ‘I pledge not to have sex until I'm an adult and trust and love the other person,’ which seemed very sensible to me. My teacher didn't like this, though, and convinced me to change it to, ‘I promise to not have sex until I'm married.’ I don't see the point of having the kids write their own pledges if the teacher is just going to rewrite them. That was probably my weirdest experience with sex ed and it's stuck with me through the years.” — Addison, 19
3 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“When I went to a super-religious...Pentecostal Christian church, they told me to imagine my purity and virginity as a gift of a ring. The preacher then said if we let a couple people borrow it and wear it, over time it would become dirty, worn-out, dingy, and would lose its new sparkle. So because of this, women should protect their hoo-has, so men would want us as a bride. What a load of bullshit.” — Clarissa, 17
4 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“My mom taught the sex-ed classes at my middle school.” — Zooey, 27
5 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“I lived in South Carolina, so we had abstinence-only sex ed my junior year. Our teacher told us that we shouldn't go around kissing people, because if we kissed someone who was HIV-positive, we would become infected, too. On top of that, one of the girls in my class was pregnant at the time,and the teacher made a couple of jokes about it, which made me furious, because one: it screamed slut-shaming and two: her pregnancy could have been prevented had we had informative sex ed before many of us became sexually active.” — Itzel, 19
6 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“I learned about menstruation when my mother handed me a pamphlet called You're a Young Lady Now, published by Kotex. She said, ‘Let me know if you have any questions,’ and walked away. Not really a horror story, but very typical of my generation. I can't remember how I found out about sex...probably from literature!” — E. Babbs, 62
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7 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“In 11th grade, we were told that men having multiple partners was okay, but women having multiple partners was disgusting and would lead to the expedited spreading of STDs, because condoms stopped STDs, but girls couldn't be protected.” — Em, 20
8 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“In my school, they were trying to explain how girls can be confusing, and they said, ‘Sometimes, when girls say no, they actually mean yes.’ Enough said.” — Rachel, 19
9 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“Although I received great sex ed in high school, many of my college friends heard little more information than the health class in Mean Girls. One friend thought you can't get STIs through oral sex and another thought that pulling out was the only thing needed to effectively prevent pregnancy.” — Hailey, 20
10 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“My mother did not give me any information about sex. Perhaps she figured that what I learned in school or from my fiends or older sisters would be sufficient. I was 14-and-a-half when I got my first period. I went and told my mother, hoping for some sympathy and information, but instead, she slapped me hard across the face. Crying, I asked her, ‘Why did you do that?’ and she answered me, ‘I don't really know, but that's what my mother did to me.’” — Susie, 46
11 of 11
Illustrated by Carly Jean Andrews.
“My ninth grade health teacher decided to cover sex ed and drug abuse at the same time, so the only time we ever talked about sex was when he told us that ecstasy was better than an orgasm.” — Anonymous
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