Tales from the classroom: our hilarious and cringeworthy memories of sex education

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Harriet Hall
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Sex education: that hugely important subject that the government recently removed from the compulsory school syllabus, causing female MPs, parents, women’s rights activists and generally sensible people to bang their heads on desks in ‘doh’ frustration.

Perhaps what the Conservative party have missed, though, is not that sex education is something that can be tossed to one side and left to parents or even pornography to take the reins on, but something that has, typically, always been a complete farce.

Recalling our own sex ‘education’ lessons at school, the Stylist team had so many side-splittingly funny tales, that we couldn’t resist sharing them.

From singing condoms to Romeo and Juliet’s first night of passion, here we recall our most awkward, flummoxing and quite frankly alarming sex education lessons at school.

Needless to say, none of us really learnt anything…

Johnny Condom

Alexandra Jones, senior features writer, Stylist:

“We were shown a video in which a Spitting Image-style condom puppet came to life after he was used and went around getting reused. His name was Johnny Condom and he sang a song: ‘I’m Johnny Condom, use a condom.’ There were also some puppet nuns in the video if I recall correctly…It was slightly terrifying but completely hilarious, and given that I still remember the song it was obviously quite effective.”

Pot luck

Hayley Spencer, freelance digital writer, Stylist:

“At my school it was pot luck which teacher you had as to whether your sex-ed was fool proof or practically non-existent. A friend's class had to chant 'chastity or condoms' to their religious teacher for a few minutes and that was it, whereas mine had almost a full term of lessons. It included condom demos and practices on lurid coloured plastics penises (so they weren’t too realistic), and an HIV video starring Tom Fletcher from McFly.”

I’ve had one of those

Harriet Hall, digital features editor, Stylist:

“What can I say, it was a mixed bag. One lesson involved our reverend showing us how to put a condom on a banana, which was obviously ancient, as it split immediately and sent everyone into squeals of panic. We were taught less about sex and more about puberty, really, with one lesson involving tutorials on how to tactfully tell our peers they had BO and recommending them deodorant. Needless to say, this was taken to the playground with gumption. Another lesson included ‘wet dreams’. Before the teacher was able to get into details, one over eager boy shouted out: ‘I’ve had one of those!’ He still hasn’t lived it down…”

The Miracle of Life

Jamie Klingler, publishing manager, Stylist:

“We watched a public broadcasting service film called The Miracle of Life which is graphic recording of an entire birth. We were only 11 years old and Mr. Grunwald rewound the video so we could see what it would look like if the doctor pushed the baby back in. It was traumatic. It’s the only full-on vaginal birth I’ve seen to this day – and it could be part of the reason why I honestly don’t want a baby!”

Pet poodles

Léonie Chao-Fong, freelance digital writer, Stylist:

“Our 80-year-old school matron once demonstrated sex to us using her pet poodles. She had six of them and used to pose them in different positions to show us how sex works. I can still remember their sad little faces today.”

Heavy petting

Daniela Morosini, freelance beauty writer, Stylist:

“My teacher told me about a girl who’s had a baby without knowing she was pregnant, because she hadn’t had sex. Apparently she’d conceived after some ‘heavy petting’. It was confusing and very, very weird….”

Womb service

Anna Fielding, editor, Emerald Street:

““We were shown a video that featured – amongst other mind-bending oddness – a woman dressed as a womb, singing ‘someday my sperm will come!’ to the tune of Someday My Prince Will Come with a really strong Australian accent. I met a girl at a party about six or seven years ago who had also seen it. We bonded over it whilst everyone else assumed we were making it up.”

Ritual purification

Anna Brech, digital editor, Stylist:

“We were all shown a video in which a man and a woman casually wandered around naked in their home. They both got in a bath together where the woman washed her armpits vigorously with a matter-of-fact narration, saying: ‘In the morning, I like to wash my armpits and vagina thoroughly’ (and then same for man, presumably about washing his penis). Then it cut to the whole ‘when a man and woman are very much in love, they often have sex’ – before to the outside of an animated house, where the light goes out in one window. And then, obscurely, a cat was seen miaowing outside. To this day, I have no idea what the take-home message was."

One hit wonder

Siobhan Morrin, assistant editor, Emerald Street:

“We only had one lesson. The entire class rifled through a big plastic box of contraception: a coil; an unrolled condom, no packet; a diaphragm with a hole punched in it (in case one of us wanted to steal it I assume). We just looked at them without explanation. A few years later when I got to sixth form they'd introduced peer-to-peer sex-ed – they'd introduced a blue plastic penis and got the six formers to give the lower years sex ed during lunch breaks. Wolverhampton also had one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country so I guess that no other school was doing much better…”

The blind leading the blind

Jenny Tregoning, sub editor:

“We had a scheme when we were in sixth form that we would run sex-ed classes for younger years – one of the role plays involved pretending to try and lure a younger pupil into bed while they tried diversion tactics. It was deeply uncomfortable. The diversion tactics were to say no twice then if they asked a third time, leave the room to make a cup of tea!”

Romeo and Juliet

Victoria Gray, Digital production Manager:

“We had a fairly mortifying lesson at school where the teacher asked us to shout out any sex words we didn’t understand, which just dissolved into everybody shouting out words, from ‘gash’ to one girl who quietly said: ‘errrrrrrm, pussy? Because I wasn’t sure where cats get involved’ - to which the entire class erupted. 

We were also shown a hilarious video where a boy and a girl were starring in a ‘modern, urban’ version of Romeo and Juliet. At one point the boy got an erection during swimming class and the girl grew armpit hair. In short, nothing useful was learnt.”