I’M JACQUELINE WASHINGTON, and I’m 18 now—late 18. I was born and raised in east Oakland, and I’m about to graduate from high school. My school’s really large, and I don’t like it; I’m a small-school person. I would say it’s about 1,500 kids. The last school I was at had at the most 230.
I started going to this new school my senior year. My old school got shut down in August because our administrator was doing a lot of dirty stuff, and they caught onto it. A lot of teachers were even suing him. They could have got rid of him and got somebody else, but the Oakland Unified School District—which has board members who don’t even live in Oakland on the board—they were like, “No, we’re just gonna close the school.” I was in that school for three years, and it’s so small you become like family with these people. To just separate us like that—it made me mad.
And the teachers, they give you too much homework—yet, at the same time, there’s not enough academics going on. They give you homework and say, “OK, here, you’re going to do this or you’re going to read this.” But they don’t really teach. I got like two classes that do teach, but in the others it’s just, “Work on this packet and turn it in at this time.”
As far as sex education goes, there’s nothing at all. The counselors here suck. They’re really terrible. It’s weird. They don’t teach it and it doesn’t come up. In the school I was at before, everything was focused on you going to college. So they had SAT prep classes and stuff like that, but it was never about sex. If you’re dealing with that, you deal with that on your own.
So a lot of kids are just depending on Planned Parenthood. My school before was in a mall, and there was a Planned Parenthood right there. So, we would have to go there. You’re supposed to have body exams anyway if you’re sexually active, and they will talk to you about it. They hand you paperwork about it and everything. But I thought we should be able to talk to somebody at our school about it, or something. There was one person who tried to offer that, but she was doing everything at the school, so it was really hard. I guess we all just learn by experiencing it. You say, “OK, I’m gonna do this with you. I choose to have sex with you.” And then you talk to your friends, and we try to say, “OK, but be sure to stay safe. Wrap it up!”
I’m antisex now though. I choose abstinence. I’m not a virgin, but I’m choosing not to have sex. I ended up losing my virginity when I was 14. I felt ready to do it with the person I was with, and it was a good experience. We were hecka cool. We were going out for a whole year, and I was hecka cool with his family. To this day his Momma still calls me her daughter. It’s really sweet. I remember the day we decided to do it. It was really weird, because we had just come back from a trip the day before, and I was just chilling at his house or whatever. And, you know, he just said, “Are you ready?” and I was like, “Sure.” We came to a mutual understanding there I guess!
But other people have tried to get with me for the wrong reasons. I felt like sex is the only reason they would want to get with me. And I’m like, “Well, it’s not gonna happen, so I guess there’s no point in us being together.” Plus I got school to focus on, because I’m going to college next year. So I don’t need that to be another burden in my life. So I’m antisex for now.
That’s how I was before I was talking to him, too. I wasn’t even thinking about it. My mom never talked to me about sex. But, you know, when you’re a little kid, parents have videos and stuff around the house. So me and my sister would look at those videos, and that was about it in terms of learning about it. I kind of depend on siblings to tell me about it—or my cousin tells me about it. She was one active little person, so she knows a lot! Or just in my environment, what I see. I can learn from that.
Everybody seems to be getting some these days. My best friend, she was just with her girlfriend and they had sex. And that’s cool. Sex is natural. You do it. That’s how you continue the circle of life; you have to have intercourse. Why not? Of course, now it’s like the baby season where I stay at—for real! One of my friends is due this month, and she’s 16. It’s happening everywhere. But I don’t know what you can say to somebody besides wrap it up. If she wants to use a condom, she wants to use a condom. If she don’t, she don’t. But I support her. As my Momma says, as long as it’s not me.
I was with this one person—he’s in college now. We were together hecka long, and if I wanted to take back the abstinence thing and, you know, engage in sexual intercourse, then I know who I would go to, because I trust him. But right now I’m antisex.
—As told to Kai Wright