THE BIRDS AND THE Zs
Sex ed gets a makeover for Generation Z
Satisfying sex may be lacking among Millennials, but the outlook is optimistic for their younger counterparts, Gen Z. Experts in the U.S. and abroad are driving a movement to demystify sexuality and remove shame from conversations surrounding it by employing methods more endemic to a tech-centric generation.
In textbooks, the clitoris is often overlooked or systematically misrepresented, so French researcher Odile Fillod is seeking a solution with the release of an open-source 3D-printer blueprint for a life-sized model of the female sex organ for use in academic curricula. French schoolchildren will be among the first to benefit from the model, which Fillod was inspired to create while working on an anti-sexist sex ed video series. She realized that presenting the clitoris correctly would help students better understand female sexual arousal from a physiological and anatomical standpoint, thereby making the topic less taboo.
AMAZE is a collaboration between experts in the field of sex education—Advocates for Youth, Answer, and Youth Tech Health—that hopes to take the awkwardness out of sex ed through a series of videos aimed at 10- to 14-year-olds. Recognizing that young people have ample information about sex available at their fingertips in the Internet age—some of it good and some of it downright disturbing—the creators set out to provide accurate, accessible answers to questions surrounding topics like puberty, sexual identity, healthy relationships, and STDs. A handful of videos have launched on Amaze.org with more than 40 to appear throughout the year.
Dubbed “the sex ed queen of Youtube” by the New York Times, Laci Green’s videos have been viewed more than 130 million times since the amateur sex expert posted a review of her NuvaRing in 2008. Green is among a new class of young women, including Eileen Kelly and Shannon Boodram, who are building an empire by updating sex ed for a generation that prefers to learn from peers rather than overly clinical textbooks. It’s not just viewers who see the benefits: Green and her YouTuber kin are earn a living from ads, college speaking engagements, and endorsement deals with condom companies and period-tracker apps.