We’ve all dreaded the “birds and the bees” talk from our parents. When the topic of our changing bodies comes up, we want to bury ourselves from embarrassment. And the sex education class we’ve all taken is considered a joke. But honestly it’s one of the most important classes in our curriculum.
People always complain that they never learn anything truly useful in school. That they’re never going to use the Pythagorean theorem in real life. Sex Ed is the one class every single person will benefit from and will continue to use for the rest of their lives, regardless of their career.
There is more to Sex Ed than just learning about what sex is or how to correctly put on a condom. This is where you learn about what a healthy relationship is, mental illness, what safe sex is, and what consent really means.
Loving your body means more than just eating right and working out. It’s about educating yourself and knowing how to be safe in everything you do.
Without proper sex education, we open the door to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted disease, and unclear guidelines of consent.
It’s not just about learning all the names of our organs. Sex Ed is about learning vital information that can keep every one of us safe and get rid of stigma that does more harm than good.
The idea that sex education is only necessary for people who are promiscuous or do drugs can be deadly. STI’s can be transmitted through more than just sex – they can be transmitted through blood contact, contaminated needles, and improper safety guidelines.
People can be born with an STD if their mother was infected. It’s time we start educating people about these situations so we can end the stigma behind sex ed.
I was lucky enough to have this class in the fifth grade. And although all my classmates and I groaned and turned beet red at the thought of discussing these things with our teachers, it was a safe place to ask questions and talk about things we might not get to ask our parents.
At the end of the day, no matter how embarrassed we all were, knowing that there was someone we could go and talk to was comforting. This is why sex ed should be mandated as a necessary class to graduate high school at the very least.
A whopping 18 states do not require their schools to teach any sort of sex education classes. These people can graduate high school knowing the stages of mitosis but not know how to get proper birth control.
Not only is this inconsistent, there is no way to track what is being taught in terms of sex education in these states. Students can be learning anything under the sun about sex and there is no regulation against it.
It’s no surprise that all of these states have the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
But what can be even worse than no sex ed class is sex ed with incomplete or just wrong information. According to the American Adolescents’ Sources of Sexual Health Information, only 55% of young men and 60% of young women received proper information about birth control.
They had been given all the information about STD’s and the consequences of sex, but they were never given information about how to have safe sex.
Abstinence-only education is a popular tool for many states. They preach that the only true way to have safe sex is to not have sex at all. Which is true, but that is like saying the only way to never get in a car crash is to never go outside.
By looking at teen pregnancy rates in America, we all know that teenagers continue to have sex and are not protecting themselves.
Federal policymakers have poured millions of dollars into abstinence-only education – some even go so far as to ban schools from discussing contraceptives other than to emphasize their failure. Because of course, why would they need to know how to prevent pregnancy if they’re going to wait until marriage?
A federally funded study published in April 2007 showed that teenagers in an abstinence-only program are not any less likely to delay sexual activity. In fact, multiple state studies showed that they were even less inclined to use contraceptive methods because of the information they had received from their abstinence-only class.
Not teaching teenagers about contraceptives can have adverse effects later in life. By preaching the idea that you cannot have sex until marriage perpetuates the idea of an “ideal” family that not everyone wants.
In addition, if a rare couple does wait until marriage to have sex, not having proper sex education early in life can leave them ill-equipped to plan their family as they want. Not every couple wants children as soon as they are married, or even at all.
It prevents people from being able to make an informed decision. Abstinence-only education is not only ineffective, it’s unethical. Every person has the right to proper sexual health.
Generally, abstinence-only classes do not discuss the other aspects of sex ed that make it such a useful class. For example, many of them do not discuss proper consent guidelines because they function on the bases that the people involved will be married.
Consent is a vital aspect of proper sex education and part of the reason the line is blurred is because of incomplete information. Abstinence-only classes also tend to ignore the components of a healthy relationship, mental illness, or human sexuality.
As of 2015, an abysmal 6% of people reported they had received positive information about the LGBTQ community and related topics. This Metiza article might fill in the gaps.
It is not a politicians, teachers, or government’s job to tell teenagers what to do with their bodies. By preaching abstinence-only and not giving us unbiased, complete information about sexual health, they are taking away our right to make an informed decision.
It is not their job to police our bodies.
Sex education is a necessary part of the public’s health and wellbeing and needs to be properly regulated and discussed. Without it, rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections will only continue to grow. And important things like mental illness, human sexuality, and consent will continue to go undiscussed.2
Also published on Medium.