Oh! That’s Embarrassing!: “The ABC of Sex Education for Trainables”

By on May 10, 2015

Oh!, that’s embarrassing!… well, we suppose this is why most teenagers usually lock their bedroom doors. And Mom should have knocked, really. When Mother’s Day comes around each May, how many of us think back to our childhood memories about dear ol’ Mom and remember something like this? (You don’t have to answer that).

SEX EDUCATION OF TRAINABLES 1 All kidding aside, this is actually a clip extracted from a longer training film titled The ABC of Sex Education for Trainables, made in 1975. It was directed by Maxwell Brecher and narrated by Richard Dix. Perhaps more significantly, it was produced and distributed on 16mm film by Hallmark Films and Recordings, Inc., with further assistance from Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, all for the purpose of instructing teachers and caregivers on how to carefully approach the various topics of sex education with, erm,… “trainables,” … that is, teenagers that are developmentally disabled. The narrator offers “trainables” as a substitute for “retardates,” by the way. SEX EDUCATION OF TRAINABLES 4 Here’s what the Digitally Obsessed DVD review blog had to say about this film in their capsule review of the Fantoma compilation of educational films (“The Educational Archives, Vol. 1: Sex & Drugs & Social Engineering 101″) when it was released in 2001: Teaching children about sex is a delicate subject at the best of times. This film was produced by Planned Parenthood to train teachers of developmentally-challenged young adults (called “trainables” here) about their bodies, reproduction, and the place of sexual relations in society. While there are a few fairly humorous scenes in here, such as a group of teachers coming up with alternate names for the penis, or a mother walking in on her son while he is masturbating, this film actually does the best job of dealing with the issues of sex in context with society. Teachers offer diagrams to teach their pupils their anatomy, and discuss the many aspects of normal development and sexual maturity. Issues that would be difficult to address, such as the appropriateness of public masturbation, or being aware of being exploited by others, are handled with tact and matter of factness. The style is a little off, especially the Sergio Leone style closeups of the central commentator, but in all this is quite an interesting piece on what would present a real challenge to those caring for developmentally-challenged individuals, and their responsibilities as sexual beings. It is the most educational, and least condescending sex education film of the lot. SEX EDUCATION OF TRAINABLES 6 One of our favorite moments in the film shows a counselor coaching teachers on how to come up with a dozen words for penis (“Do you think that’s a good thing for a man, to have a penis?”, she asks some of ‘trainables’). Other topics including talking about wet dreams with a “calm and accepting” manner, and explaining intercourse, of which you can see another short sample (which includes the scene above) right here:


We should also mention that the music is performed by a group called the Lakesprings, about whom we could find no information, but certainly the dulcet plucked strings and whistling enhance the mood here tremendously, don’t you think?

Watch the entire The ABC of Sex Education for Trainables right here (sorry for the poor quality):

Richard Dix

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.