How would you imagine that a school that “respects, values, and honours all students” would approach sex education classes?
If you answered, They would separate 10th grade boys and girls, teach the girls the importance of virginity, and ask the boys to rank girls based on arbitrary characteristics, then you would (sadly) be right.
That is what sex education looks like at St. Luke’s Grammar School, a co-ed Anglican institution in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia.
The class, which is described as “Christian studies,” would be more accurately described as “Gender Roles and Degrading Views on Women.” The sophomore boys were given 25 points to allocate on qualities they look for in a girl, with “good looking/attractive,” “strong Christian,” and “virgin” being worth the most… and “generous,” “cares for the world,” and “comfortable even in quiet moments” worth the least.
Here’s the breakdown in case you’d like to play this awful game yourself:
- Six points: popular, loyalty, good looking/attractive, intelligent, strong Christian, kind and considerate, virgin, trustworthy
- Five points: physically fit, easy to talk to, fun/sense of humour, wise
- Four points: sporty/sexy, goes to church, honest/doesn’t lie or cheat, similar interests to you, friendly
- Three points: well dressed/groomed, artistic, good manners, good pedigree, ambitious goals, hard-working, great kisser, owns a car
- Two points: right height, good at school, brave – stands up for rights, socially competent
- One point: favourite hair colour, favourite eye colour, has money, sincere and serious, generous, adventurous, similar beliefs, cares for the world, comfortable even in quiet moments
While there are a number of problems with that list — virginity is worth more than being generous or hard-working, being “physically fit” is more important than honesty, etc. — it’s also worth noting that similar traits are listed throughout the ranks. For example, there are traits relating to physical appearance in all six categories. Being “intelligent” gets 6 points, being “wise” gets 5 points, and being “good at school” gets 2. Being a strong Christian is worth 6 points, but having “similar beliefs” is only 1. It’s all very confusing even beyond the complete subjectivity of the list.
It’s also a little too easy to tell that the teacher (who is a clergy member in the abuse-ridden Anglican church) values certain traits in women. That’s his prerogative — just not when he uses traits like “sporty/sexy” and “great kisser” to describe tenth graders. And, of course, his twisted mindset is now being passed down to the next generation through this rating system.
What did the girls’ breakdown look like? They didn’t have one.
The girls did not have a similar lesson, and instead were given articles on the importance of virginity and how Satan provides opportunities for fleeting sexual encounters.
It’s not clear if they were told the point value of their virginity.
In a letter to parents addressing this atrocious lesson, Principal Geoff Lancaster tried to downplay the obvious concerns:
“This term the students have been looking at the complex issues of consent and toxic masculinity and contrasting the negative images portrayed in society with god’s plan for strong, healthy relationships where people respect each other as equals.
St Luke’s always has been, and always will be, a school that respects, values and honours all students.”
If this lesson isn’t a clear example of “toxic masculinity,” I don’t know what is.
It should go without saying that young women should be viewed in all their humanity and not by some sexist and arbitrary point system. (This applies here as well as to the archaic idea of rating a woman’s desirability on a scale of 1 to 10.) One of the worst things we can do for young women’s self-esteem is to pit them against each other as if womanhood is a competition where men keep the score.
Some women may aspire to be seen as hot or known as great kissers — and that’s okay if that’s what they want. But we as a society need to continue the work of not defining women by what they do with their bodies — inside and outside. They should be applauded for who they are and encouraged to be kind, honest, adventurous, brave, or any number of other positive traits that have nothing to do with what goes on between their legs.
(Image via St. Luke’s Grammar School)