Sex Education Continues to Fail Students
Sex may be a difficult subject to discuss. But considering that sexual education can prevent unwanted teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STI), it is a topic that needs to be taught. Schools are failing to properly teach sexual education in the U.S.
Currently, only 22 states require Sex-Ed to be a part of the curriculum, and only 13 of those states require the information to be medically accurate. This allows schools to spread judgmental and misleading information about sexual health. For example, schools that teach and enforce abstinence tend to shame those who have sex. In the case of Elizabeth Smart, a rape victim survivor and current activist, she remembers a lesson in school in which her teacher had compared her to a stick of gum, that became less sticky after she had sex. Abstinence lessons are essentially demeaning students in their lessons.
Some schools are even discouraging the use of contraceptives. House Bill 999 in Mississippi banned the use of condoms for demonstrations in Sex Ed, despite the fact that Mississippi has the highest rate of teen childbirth and young-adult HIV. The new bill will only dissuade the use of contraceptives in teens, and further the problem of teen pregnancy.
Sexual Education in schools can help teens develop healthy relationships, if implemented effectively. Students are should be taught positive communication, conflict management and negotiating decisions about sexual activity. Sexual Education should properly teach consent and allow students to be informed about their options. Schools should be objective in their lessons rather than teaching according to their personal beliefs.
In order for students to make informed decisions about their body, the U.S. should mandate medically accurate sexual education classes. Furthermore, schools should disclose the information they disseminate in their classes in order to have a transparent system. Teens can have the knowledge to make smart choices about their relationships and sexual lives, but it all starts with comprehensive and nonjudgmental sexual education courses.