When I was in eleventh grade, our high school hosted an all-school assembly. It wasn't sponsored by the school, and the topic of the assembly was not publicized. We were just informed that there was an assembly and we walked with our classes to the auditorium.
The program was produced by a community group, and several students from Oregon City High School, who were members of the group, put on the assembly for us. It was well-rehearsed, engaging, and funny. And, it was about sex. This was twenty-one years ago, and I still clearly remember the skit where boys and girls were paired together to demonstrate how to properly put on a condom. The girls had giant life-sized condoms that they put over their partners' entire bodies, making sure to leave extra room at the head. I rather enjoyed the production.
When I stepped off the school bus that afternoon, I saw my mom waiting in the doorway of our house. Oh, great, I thought. I wonder what I'm in trouble for now. It didn't occur to me that she would've heard of the assembly. But she had. Apparently, several of my Follower classmates had reported the mandatory assembly to their parents, who had activated the frantic calling of all the parents, and dozens of complaints to our school.
Followers are not allowed to participate in sex education classes or class content. It's on our "yellow cards" along with the exemption from having inoculations and medical treatment. No sex ed.
The stigma started in fifth grade when the schools show the students videos about menstruation and puberty. We were to be sent to the library during these videos. Ug. My mom let me stay home from school that day. Good thing, because I would've died of embarassment. And, I wanted to see that video!
In eighth grade, we got an extra elective class while our classmates took sex ed. Same deal in high school. The extra elective was nice, but I wanted some facts. The idea was that if we knew about sex, we would be tempted to have sex.
So, the policy of the Followers was to marry kids off in the late teens, still virgins. The "sex talk" would happen a week or so before the wedding. They thought we wouldn't figure anything out before then. But I'm a rebel, and being told I couldn't/shouldn't know something just made me want to know even more. I heard about "rubbers" from school kids in junior high, so I asked one of my wiser Follower friends what a rubber was, and she told me it was a piece of rubber that you rub on yourself to keep from getting pregnant.
The same year that we were "forced" to watch that infamous assembly, I had a science class with only worldly people. It was the only class I took in high school where I was the only Follower. The teacher seemed pretty obsessed with our church too. He always made a point to come over and talk to us in the cafeteria. So, one day he announced in front of the class that he was going to talk about sex, and that there was a group of kids who were members of the "Followers of Christ" church that were to be excused from this portion of the class. What? Dude, he knew that I was the only one and he had to single me out. I was not going to stand up and say, "Oh, you mean me? OK." In hindsight, I wish I would've had the guts to do it, but I didn't. I was a teenager and a) wanted to know the facts and b) didn't want to be singled out. Sheesh.
So, maybe you're wondering if all this lack of knowledge worked? In my opinion, it wasn't the lack of knowledge that kept most of us from having sex. It was the fear and consequences attached to the sex act. If we had sex before marriage we faced: shunning in this life and Hell in the next, but perhaps more pressing than those consequences was the loss of a church wedding.
Church weddings were only for virgins and included huge rewards - the wedding services were free (though things like dresses and flowers were paid for by the bride's parents), beautiful, attended by all, lots of fun - including a dance with a live band. The bride received housewares and a new wardrobe for her shower, the groom received money (enough to pay his church membership) for his "bachelor party" (which was attended by men--and I'm told--very tame). For the wedding, the couple typically received all the furniture for their new home (living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom - everything), and enough money to pay for the honeymoon and then some. It was a prize worth waiting for.