The girls went first, while Tom Wright took the boys out for an extended P.E. period. The boys class was scheduled to last right up until the busses left, so they would have no time to stand around and paw the ground while comparing notes, nor to search out the girls and harass them with their new knowledge.
The girls entered the room in a state of high nervous tension. Neil had the same feeling. He sat at one side of the room where he could be seen and ignored. For the most part, the girls chose to pretend he wasn’t there.
Fiona laid down the ground rules. “Today we are all going to see a film about growing up, and the changes your bodies go through when you do. Mr. McCrae will be here for the film and for the question period afterward so that he can give us a man’s perspective. If you have any questions you want to ask him, feel free. The same goes with me. Today, you may ask any question at all. There are no stupid questions and no embarrassing questions. We want you to know the facts. If you wait to ask your friends these questions, chances are they won’t know any more than you do. Now is the time to ask.”
Fiona turned on the video. It was quite good for that age group. Parts of it were outdated; the black teenagers still wore Afro hairdos and the clothing was out of style. It used young actors telling each other their problems in a story setting to cover acne, the awkwardness of a first date, growth spurts, and all of the other “safe” aspects of the children’s budding sexuality.
The more “hard-core” sexual topics were sandwiched between the less threatening ones. Accurate but faceless and impressionistic drawings showed external sexual characteristics, and showed a comparison of the growth cycles of two girls, one maturing early, the other maturing late. Menstruation was explained, and the narrator gave the girls advice on how to treat their periods. The internal sexual organs, sperm and eggs, and the cycle of reproduction were also shown by drawings. The male sexual organs were shown in an unshaded line drawing as they went from rest to erection and then to orgasm. However, as the penis became erect, its tip ended up off camera so the spurting of semen was not seen.
In all, it was accurate but bland, slightly boring, and quite non-threatening.
After the first three minutes, the girls forgot Neil was there and he could observe them at his leisure. They had come a long way this year, but some of them still had a long way to go. Rita Morales had had her fourteenth birthday in February. She was tall, slender, and her breasts were fully formed. If she did not begin to control herself, she would probably be pregnant within the year. Rosa Alvarez took in the film the way she did her math, as something she needed to know and intended to remember. There was no evidence on her face that it meant anything personal to her. Stephanie Hagstrom looked on with the intentness of someone who already knew the outline and was filling in the blank spaces. Skinny, tiny, undeveloped Randi Nguyen sat fidgeting and looking around for something more interesting. Her hormones had not yet kicked in, and this video was a matter of complete indifference to her. more tomorrow