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Rethinking Sex Education

Poster Presentation

Culture, Design and Cognition Conference (2017)



Caroline Nivetha

Ketaki Chandwadkar

Designing a sex education method for India considering the cultural stigma around sex in the country 


The current approach to sex education in India is restricted to prints in textbooks that pertain to sex for reproduction and prevention of STDs. The awareness about sexual health is often misconstrued, misrepresented, and avoided resulting in a lack of understanding of one’s body and needs. This aspect of sex education stems from society-enforced morals, stereotypical gender roles, and expectations. This paper will focus on using a design thinking approach to model a holistic approach towards sexual health and awareness amongst human beings with an emphasis on the youth. Identifying, understanding, and living with one’s sexual orientation is an essential part of their sexual identity and needs. The cultural aspects of our society influence the beliefs and behavior of human beings and thus attaining the right balance of individualism and a way of living driven by one’s conscience. This paper will emphasize on a way of education that will help people think for themselves and empower their thoughts to help them explore their gender, sexual health, and needs thereby embracing their sexuality. While sexual health is not only restricted to physical needs but is also an essential emotional necessity, this design thinking approach will help people understand and discover themselves. Since the present attitude towards sexual wellbeing is conformist, this approach is designed by keeping the parents and society’s positive reception as an important aspect which is pivotal in the Indian context.


Keywords: Sexual Awareness, Holistic Living, Behavioural Design, Individual Cognition, Culturally Sensitive, Gender Inclusive

The Poster

Poster presented at the Culture, Design and Cognition conference

Sex from different perspectives

A series of interviews were done to understand how peoples' perspective of sex is influenced by how they first learned about it, their exposure to sexual content and information growing up, and how the adults around them respond to their curiosity on this subject through a series of unstructured interviews


Why is good sex education important?

The current attitude towards sex in our society has led to a lot of problems like sexual harassment, marital rape, unsatisfactory sex life, etc. We would like to address this issue through a different approach toward sex education for the youth

Whom is it going to be taught to?

Our target audience would be children from 6-16 years of age. Our approach would not introduce sex directly to them but rather start by explaining the human need for different kinds of companionship to knowing their sexual rights. Through this approach, we hope to help them discover what sex means to them in their own terms and try to reduce the negative attitude society imposes on children with regard to anything related to sex.

The idea

Our idea is to design a holistic approach toward sex education analogous to how a child learns any language

(starting from letters, words, grammar, sentence formation). Our approach would help the child understand sex in terms of culture, emotion, and anatomy, introducing appropriate information at the right age. It would also cover reproduction, harassment, legal rights, sexual orientation, etc., that will help the individual have a proper understanding of the subject.

How is this method different from the existing one?

The current system of sex education is only limited to the topic of reproduction, STDs, and birth control. To have a more positive attitude towards sex and create a more accepting and safe environment for all, an individual needs to understand sex as a basic human need which we are trying to achieve through a holistic approach to sex education

How will you know if it works?

Our approach tries to help remove the negative attitude about sex, which is an essential part of one's life, and help an individual be more accepting and confident of their sexual choices, orientation etc.

The impact of this method can be measured by studying the change in attitude children have towards sex and by observing if the approach helps children become more comfortable in discussing any questions they have about the topic.

How will you implement it?

This approach would try to train educators to help teach children about sex and also include parents in the process of the child's sex education in a way that will help encourage conversations and help improve the quality of communication related to sex.

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