by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Tommi Avicolli Mecca
San Francisco, California, US
July 25
I am a writer, performer and activist, editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: the early years of gay liberation (City Lights), and co-editor of Avanti Popolo: Italian-American Writers Sail Beyond Columbus and Hey Paesan: Writings by Italian American Lesbians and Gay Men. To view my creative stuff:


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SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 9:19AM

Where did you learn about sex?

Rate: 8 Flag

I learned about sex from the streets. In the working-class Little Italy in South Philly where I was born and raised, it’s where you found out anything you wanted to know. The older kids were fonts of wisdom. They didn’t always know what they were talking about, but you listened to them anyway, because they had more a lot more experience than you did with the important things in life.


It was definitely better than listening to the nuns. According to them, touching yourself “down there” (they never specified exactly where, but somehow we knew exactly where they meant) had all sorts of horrible consequences, the least of which was hairy palms, the worst of which was burning in hell fire for all eternity.


I don’t remember exactly what they told us about how babies were created, but it couldn’t have been much more sophisticated than that yarn about the stork that we got from Saturday morning cartoons. Maybe they didn’t tell us anything at all. It’s very possible. After all, I started first grade around 1956. Catholic schools were still operating in the Dark Ages, I’m not joking. Hell, they didn’t even mention evolution, let alone the joys of a good orgasm.


And our parents didn’t give us any info, either. At some point, they just assumed we knew and included us in their “adult” conversations. 


So you can imagine my joy in reading that this semester New York City public schools are mandating two sex education classes for students, one in middle school and the other in high school. Students are being taught the basics, everything from puberty 101 to how to put on a condom, though parents can opt their kids out of the lessons on birth control methods. 


Which might be the stupidest thing a New York parent can do. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta recently released stats showing that 41% of the Big Apple’s teens are sexually active by ninth and 58% by 12th grade. In the Chelsea area of the city, 67% of pregnancies are aborted, according to a Chiaroscuro Foundation study. New York City’s overall abortion rate is 40%. Many of these are repeat abortions.


Burying one’s head in some traditional religious “morality” isn’t going to change the hard, cold facts of life in the Big Apple or anywhere else. Like the birds and the bees, kids are doing it and they’re doing it with or without any knowledge of how it all works. 


Sex education couldn’t be more urgent. Yet anti-abortion spokespeople and other right-wingers (including the pope, who should just learn to keep his trap shut on sexual matters) are denouncing the decision to teach children about sex and contraception. They say that parents should be doing the teaching. But, as in my youth, many are simply not doing it. Or if they are, they’re merely teaching them to “just say no.”  


Which is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. As evidenced by the stats on how many kids are having sex and abortions. When will people learn that knowledge is never a bad thing?


Besides, having sex ed taught in schools doesn’t prevent parents from talking to their kids about sex. One is not exclusive of the other.


New York is doing the responsible thing.

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Playboy, when I was 5. It's a very informative magazine.
there is a great tumblr about "bad sex ed". I wish it were updated more frequently.

badsexed dot tumblr dot com
I learned everything I know about sex from a girl who was 13 when I was six or seven. She showed me things that would make Hugh Hefner blush. Did she rob the cradle, maybe, but I'm very happy she did!
At age 5, I asked my Mom where children came from. She explained the whole process to me and I never asked her anything else after that. Rated with a Jali Smile. :-)
I learned (accurate info) from my parents, starting at age 3. I wish more parents would do that for their kids. Since they won't, I'm all for sex education in schools.
Opting out may not be because parents don't believe in educating their kids about sex, but because they don't believe it is the schools' job or they don't believe in the Leftist agenda that is often a part of sex ed or they believe something different morally about sex than other parents might.
I'm not sure when I learned. My Jr. High sex ed class taught me nothing (except that there were all sorts of weird body parts with strange latin names, none of which I could identify) because it was the year Title 9 came out and the school thought that meant sex ed had to be co-ed our health teacher was a red-haired, pale-skinned boy's gym teacher who was horrified at having girls in his sex-ed class and blushed beet red every time he looked at us.

So, we got movies, but the movies were from the 50s and the closest they got to sex was girls and boys holding hands while roller skating. And some quizzes on latin body parts.

Then I read 'Everything you want to know about sex but are afraid to ask' which taught me nothing, either, as it assumed a much higher base of knowledge than I had, so it just made me more confused.

Needless to say, asking my mother wasn't something I even considered.
I grew up on a farm and learned the mechanics very early. The information about boys and girls I got from other completely uninformed junior high aged boys. It was terribly uncomfortable when my mother announced that there was something she needed to tell me as a senior in high school and proceeded to give me the "birds and bees" talk. I never had the talk with my dad, and there was no school sex education in the 1950s. I didn't know any Roman Catholics, they all went to parochial schools, so there was no sentiment against prophylaxis, but there was against abortion. The girls I knew who got pregnant "went to live with their aunt" for the year. Abortion was illegal. Venereal disease consisted of syphilis and "the clap". Things like chlamydia and herpes were unknown or not considered, and, of course, HIV was over the horizon. R
My sex ed class included a rather unconventional description of my teacher's deflowering on her wedding night. It seems inappropriate for a teacher to be describing her personal experiences with sex, but it was very honest and gave the girls in our class a realistic idea of what sex is like, rather than leaving us to learn from mainstream culture. I think this was a lot more valuable than the lists of body parts and methods of contraception.
In NYC 37% of people are functionally illiterate. Maybe the schools should teach their primary classes of the 3Rs. After they are putting people on the street who can fill out a job application we can talk about using limited class time and funds for something else.
Unfortunately I was 4 and snuck out from my nap and saw step-dad watching a porno in the livingroom.

That, and my grandfather had a stack of playboys in the bathroom that I "wasn't allowed into". lol