Rosemont Middle School students giggled and made “eww” noises in their seventh-grade science class as they looked at photos of sexually transmitted diseases Thursday during sex education.
Teacher Erin Lynch told students that she made sure to pick out the least graphic pictures and showed unidentifiable body parts with sexually transmitted diseases, which can often originate on a person’s genital area.
A photo of a microscopic-sized crab, or pediculosis pubis, appeared on the classroom’s erase board. Crabs, which are parasites that live on a person’s genitals and feed on blood, are the most common sexually transmitted disease, Lynch told students.
“It’s really, really itchy, but it’s not dangerous,” she said.
The disease can be treated with medication, and is the only bug that can be transmitted to another person if they use a public toilet, Lynch said.
Nearly 4 million new cases of chlamydia, a sexually transmitted bacterium that can cause blindness, are reported every year, she told students.
“It’s known as the silent killer of female fertility,” Lynch said.
The Glendale Unified School District requires that sexual education be taught to students once in seventh grade and once in high school, she said.
Parents have the option to pull their children out of sex education.
In Lynch’s nine years of teaching sex education at the middle school, all but one of her students’ parents have given consent and allowed them to take the course, Lynch said.
Last week, Lynch taught the students about the female and male reproduction organs, fetal development, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
“We start off by telling them this is not a how-to course,” she said.
Sex education prepares boys and girls for adulthood, said student Alea Leos, 12.
“We get to know a lot about what we can face in the future,” she said.
Most of Lynch’s students expressed a keen interest in the stages of fetal growth, she said.
“Everybody wants to know what it was like for their mom or dad when they were born,” Lynch said.
She also noticed when she said “penis” or talked about the sexual organ, mostly male students giggled.
Sex education is crucial for students because, Lynch said, some teens don’t have anyone to talk to or maybe don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about sex-related issues.
Lynch learned about sex when she was 14 and read articles about the topic in Cosmopolitan magazine, she said.
Students feel comfortable asking questions about sex in class, she said.
“We want them to be able to make informed and the best choices for their health,” Lynch said.