The internet has changed how kids learn about sex, but sex ed in the classroom still sucks. In Sex Ed 2.0, Mashable explores the state of sex ed and imagines a future where digital innovations are used to teach consent, sex positivity, respect, and responsibility.
Relying on schools for quality sex education doesn’t cut it, unfortunately.
Sex ed in the U.S. hasn’t traditionally been the most inclusive — or accurate. Only 24 states and D.C. require sex education, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization focused on reproductive health and rights. Abstinence-only education, preferred in many school districts, has been proven to be ineffective at reducing teen pregnancy and STDs, and LGBTQ youth rarely see themselves represented in health or sex ed classes.
So where do you go for answers?
The internet, that’s where. Thanks to the world wide web, there are now so many resources regarding sexual health for everyone. Whether you’re seeking information about gender identity or personal anecdotes about everything from coming out as trans to tackling the orgasm app, here are 20 online resources that can help educate you about your sexual health on your own terms.
Stanford graduates Mia Davis and Elise Racine created an app that spotlights everything that you need to know about sex. Have a specific question? Check out the forum. Not sure how to do something? They’ll have a guide. The app has facts about everything from lube to periods and is colorful to look at to boot.
If there was an Ivy League ranking of sex ed resources online, O.School would be the Harvard in this space. The platform offers so much information, it’s hard to figure out where to start. If you prefer to learn through livestreams or moderated chats, O.School will be for you. Videos cover everything from lessons learned via Scandal‘s Olivia Pope to tips about online dating to rape kit basics. No stone is left unturned at O.School.
College-age writers take center stage on the site The Killer And A Sweet Thang. Through their viewpoints, you can read interviews with artists, look through beautifully designed guidebooks, or peruse through personal essays and think pieces about Grindr, top privilege, asexuality, and more.
Real Talk shares sex ed lessons through teen stories that appear in a catchy (but informative) text message format. Whether it’s about how teens are dealing with relationship boundaries or sexual health information, the app disseminates the information in a way that’s as easy to digest as text conversations with a friend.
Apps, blogs, and moderated chats are great, but web series are also a pretty wonderful way to learn, too. “F*ck Yes” takes on the task of educating the masses about healthy sexual communication (between consenting folks) through short episodes that are entertaining and informative — and hilarious.
6. Ask Without Shame
Unfortunately, despite the many resources online there are still topics regarding sex ed that are taboo in various cultures. “Ask Without Shame” is an app and text service that lets users anonymously ask questions to ensure that young people have 100 percent accurate and factual information about their sexual health. Based in East Africa, the app has helped over 50,000 users and is aiming to reach 1 million youths in the region.
“Get Smart b4 U Get Sexy” is an organization aiming to empower black youth to be educated about reproductive health, impacts of rape culture, and more. While they facilitate workshops in Los Angeles communities IRL through the parent organization Black Women for Wellness, you can get access to curriculums and more information on their website here.
Technology has seeped into every part of our lives, but how has it impacted how we have or do not have sex? This podcast explores culture phenomenons that spring from the intersection of sex and technology —like intimacy with robots, or how tech impacts orgasms. You can listen to the podcast or keep up to date with sex/tech hack-a-thons or exploratory labs on the site.
Similar to F*ck Yes, the folks behind Oh Joy Sex Toy are taking sex ed to new mediums. Specifically, comics. With illustrations, Oh Joy Sex Toy walks through various how to’s or explainers relating to such topics as “daddy/little” relationships or menopause. Lingerie is even covered in the comics. They’re easy to read and get lost in, and cover an extensive range of topics — and they review sex toys, too.
Afrosexology’s mission is simple: “to educate, explore, and reclaim Black sexuality,” and promote “Black self empowerment through sexual liberation.” While a majority of their work comes from in-person workshops that you can attend, they do resources in the form of worksheets, book suggestions, and more.
Micah is a writer, advocate, and educator when it comes to transgender identities. Through the website GenderQueer.Me, non-binary stories and identities are amplified beautifully. There are personal essays by and for other non-binary or trans folks, and an opportunity for providers to also share stories or themes alongside plenty of incredibly informative resources.
Ash Hardell’s YouTube channel is full of personal revelations, anecdotes from friends, and informational videos that aim to offer a LGBTQ perspective to all things sex ed. Ash discusses everything from having sex on antidepressants or androsexuality.
HEART Women & Girls is a platform dedicated to fill a gap in sex ed through their efforts to raise awareness about sexual violence and promote healthy practices in Muslim communities. Guest bloggers have written about their experiences in posts on the site or if you have a question of your own, there is space for you to bring them forward on the site anonymously.
Based in Seattle and founded in 1998, this independent online hub for sex ed is perfect for teens and young adults. Whether you’re looking for a forum to discuss with others or you just want straight up information on hygiene products, intimacy, or navigating social media and porn, this is a one stop shop for knowledge.
Planned Parenthood is always a great resource when it comes to sexual health. The organization has long provided sex ed resources across the country. But even if you’re not comfortable visiting a clinic yourself, there are a lot of topics you can learn about on the site — for teens and parents.
AMAZE promises to take “the awkward out of sex ed,” and while that might be a goal for many platforms out there, this video series by Advocates for Youth delivers on its promise. Each video breaks down aspects of sex ed that might not be taught in schools, like sexual orientation, how to be an ally, or what virginity actually is.
Viceland’s television shows are never afraid to *go there*, so it should be no surprise that Slutever is no exception. Karley Sciortino explores themes that you might not get from other resources — like cam girls, ecosexuality, and sex fantasies.
By teens, for teens is the mantra at Sex, Etc. Here you can learn the answer to Frequently Asked Questions, find clinics in your community to visit, understand your rights when it comes to getting the best sex ed out there, and play games — like their “condom game.” Fun!
19. Sex Plus
Laci Green has made a name for herself on the internet as a sex educator online over the years and her YouTube series “Sex Plus” (also the name of her forthcoming book!) is a comprehensive guide to sexual health and adjacent themes. It’s a weekly series, so stay tuned regularly to learn about consent, toxic masculinity, genders and more.
If you live in New York, TIA is a one-stop shop for your sexual health needs. But if you don’t, don’t worry. The organization has an app that offers period tracking, helpful data around your menstrual cycle, and science-backed information that sounds like it comes from a fun, chill friend.