22 November 2011


Al Vernacchio is a counselor and a teacher of both English and human sexuality at a Philadelphia Mainline school. His sex ed class is the only one of its kind in the nation, according to Laurie Abraham's NYTimes article Teaching Good Sex. Discussion is free-ranging, guided by Vernacchio's positive, common-sense, unselfconscious attitude, and enhanced by the environment of safety and trust which he nurtures with each student.

"Sexuality and Society begins in the fall with a discussion of how to recognize and form your own values, then moves through topics like sexual orientation .... , safer sex, relationships, sexual health, and the emotional and physical terrain of sexual activity." Discussions may center on male and female anatomy, on understanding a partner's needs and preferences, or on "a kind of cost-benefit analysis of various types of relationships, from friendship to old-school dating to hookups." Students uniformly report a feeling of ease and mutual respect in the class, not to mention all that they learn when the veils of secrecy and taboo are removed.

I wish I'd had a similar class when I was young. All those moments of uncertainty, embarassment, posturing, and generally learning through trail and error (many errors) could have been avoided. I highly recommend the article to readers of any age.

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