We’ve Reached Climax! (Conclusion)

The purpose of this blog was to emphasize the importance of comprehensive sexual education and to propose that it be implemented into school curricula nationwide. With a new Presidential Administration in the White House, it is more important than ever that the push for comprehensive sexual education is kept strong. While we addressed arguments opposing comprehensive sex ed as fairly as possible, we made sure to highlight why those arguments were flawed and stressed the importance of a comprehensive sex ed mandate. Although we were able to pinpoint a reason to continue advocating for comprehensive sex ed within each opposing argument, our research showed us that sex ed is controversial because our society is becoming increasingly conditioned to see sex in a certain light.

The discussion about comprehensive sexual education will always be controversial. There will be people who demand comprehensive programs, but there will also be those who think our children should be taught through abstinence-only programs. The resultant divide has created a discrepancy between those educated in states with comprehensive programs and those who have been educated in states without. If people can’t unite in support of the more effective option, comprehensive sexual education, then children will continue to develop into adults without a full understanding of their bodies or others’. Sexual education is not a personal preference because our sexual anatomies are a fact. At the present, less than half of American states are enacting a comprehensive sexual education program, and even less require education on HIV. The fact that not all programs are required to be medically accurate only serves to exacerbate the problem. The lack of standard and lack of information precision is a disservice to our children and ourselves. For all these reasons, we think sexual education should be mandated on the federal level, and encouragingly, it seems more people are coming around to the idea of a universal comprehensive sexual education program.

Perhaps the most surprising fact we learned from our research was that a majority of people do indeed support comprehensive sex ed. There is an overwhelming amount of parental, student, and teacher support for this movement. Even more surprising may be the fact that support for comprehensive sex ed ranges across all sorts of political and religious ideologies. Why is there so much controversy surrounding a topic that is so supported? Perhaps it is that sex is considered a family-only subject, and perhaps it is that the voice of the opposition has always been louder. Perhaps it is that society has simply changed, and sex is no longer tied so definitely to having children. Even as cultural perceptions of sex have changed and are changing still, we have concluded that the benefits of comprehensive sex ed tip the scales in its favor.

Overall, this blog helped us learn more about the policies important to us and gave us the chance to construct a comprehensive argument for it. We see the importance of looking at an argument from every angle to strengthen our stance. We believe in the importance of expanding your knowledge of topics you may think you already know well. We have learned more than we expected to during this project, and hope you did too!

Thank you for taking the time to follow @letstalkaboutsex! We hope you walk away with a new understanding or perspective about comprehensive sexual education that will inspire you to join us in advocating for it!

Sincerely, the Sexperts of COMM398O

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Leave it to the States: A Refutation

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Just as some may argue that sexual education is decision made by parents, it can also be argued that it the curriculum should be decided on by each individual state, because if we’re being honest, America’s public school system is failing us. In 2010, a documentary titled Waiting for Superman showed viewers the shortcomings of public schooling in urban areas specifically. Desperate parents and educators are turning to public charter schools, which serve their children better than the public schools, where allegedly, their teachers don’t care. As our argument is for a comprehensive sexual education across the nation, we are arguing for a standardized education, one that is not left up to the states. (In this article, we will present arguments for standardized education as a general movement, but our applications and examples will focus on standard ized sex ed.)

In 2015, Jeb Bush argued in this Washington Post op-ed that state-decided education is better tailored to the needs of students. National education policy is so muddied up that the true purpose of education is being pushed to the side. Educating students, not payroll, tenure, should be the priority. Bruce Fuller’s book, Standardized Childhood: The Political and Cultural Struggle Over Early Education writes that the education reform movement is an orchestration of elitist society to “push a normative way of raising children.

While our public school system may be suffering, the answer is not to abandon it, and certainly not when it comes to a sexual education program. Sexual education is not a cultural preference, nor is it “normative.” Young people need to know about their bodies and their reproductive functions and processes. Bush argues that education today is not focused on students anymore. Sex ed is wholly about students. It is at least one thing students learn in grade school that has application outside of a classroom or job setting. Sex ed. is purely for the student’s benefit- it is not about “the future that liberals want.” It is not an erosion of culture. Safe sex education, knowledge about STDs and your natural bodily functions and processes are universal necessities. Regardless of what state, and even what country they live in, people are prone to the same dangers and misconceptions about sex and their bodies. Our push for standard comprehensive sex ed. is not pushing against cultural values either: sex ed is applicable to you whether you are unmarried or married, and whether you are straight or gay. All people deserve education, and sexual education is included in that.

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Check out this interactive map of STDs in the United States by city.

Knowing this, it seems clear that allowing states to be in charge of sexual education standards and curriculum is not to our benefit. However, if this is not convincing enough, look at this issue from a socioeconomic standpoint. Waiting for Superman explains that schools are funded by the taxes, and in urban lower income areas, schools are getting less and less. Without a national standard for sexual education, there is nothing to prevent a school from cutting it altogether and leaving students totally unaware of what is happening with their bodies. This not only affects the students, but their potential sexual partner(s) or children as well. In schools with abstinence only policies, rates of teen pregnancy are much higher. If we can agree that teenagers are not ready to be parents, then we can agree that they need a comprehensive sex ed which includes more than just the “facts.”

Finally, proponents of states education believe that when states and school districts have control, the needs and wants of parents and students can be better addressed in the curriculum. This sounds lovely if you are living in a medium to high income area where a lot of parents have had an education and understand the value of schooling. In lower income areas, parents may not even have the time to be involved in their child’s education. Parent-teacher associations (PTAs) are a luxury for people who have time. Other barriers that require consideration are language barriers and education levels.  State/district decided education is great for privileged people, but it is not great for everyone. College educated parents who speak English and have stable well paying jobs with predictable hours are better equipped to help schools develop a curriculum because they understand what is being considered. Parents who spend all their time working to support their families are counting on the schools to take care of education of education for them. Even college educated parents are expecting this- my parents expected that what I learned in school should be enough. Standardized sex ed. circumvents the differing home views on sexual education as well. Different cultural backgrounds can affect parents’ comfort level or choice to talk about sex with their kids. If there was no sexual education offered at school, my parents would have taught me themselves, or maybe they wouldn’t have. But because my school did offer it, we never needed to have “the talk” at home. If all schools implement the same sex ed. program, then regardless of parents’ position on it, and regardless of their involvement in the school process, students will leave schools with the necessary knowledge and tools.

State-decided education in the end, is a cop-out. If our national school system is suffering, the answer is not to pull kids out if it, but to improve it. In a society of so many disparities, education should be an equalizer, not a magnifier of disadvantage. Yet, state-decided education falls heavily in favor of more affluent states, and within them, more affluent districts. Standardized education touches on far more than just sexual education, but it’s the same as teaching kids how to read- they will all need it at some point in their lives. Superman isn’t coming; it’s up to us to save our own education system. So this is our demand of those in charge of education: give us a standardized sexual education program, or we will give you rising STD and teen pregnancy rates.

 

Give the kids what they want! (information)

Kids of all ages have questions about their bodies, relationships, and yes, even sex. Just take a look at some of questions submitted during a class for preteen boys and girls.

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(My favorite – “When a women says ‘I’m pregnent’ why is it so suprizing if they already know they had sex?”)

Kids have A LOT of questions and, unfortunately, not all of them have reliable parents to ask or out-of-school programs like this one where they can get the answers they need. Comprehensive sex ed as part of the school curriculum offers students an opportunity to ask these questions and get reliable answers. Why are we limiting this only to students who happen to live in districts that chose to teach comprehensive sex ed? With a nation-wide mandate for comprehensive sex ed, we can ensure all students have a place to ask their questions.

There’s an app for that

After the University of Tennessee’s sex week had it’s funds slashed and reputation condemned, students decided to take matters into their own… phones? Hookup, an app created by students and dedicated to providing accurate sexual education, gives students and young adults instant answers for their sex-related questions. While striving for a “cool, older-cousin vibe”, the sexperts answering these questions are volunteer experts and Planned Parenthood educators located in the area. In addition to the anonymous “Ask a Sexpert” feature of the app, a “Share Your Story” section allows users to post anonymous stories.

Obviously an app cannot replace sex ed being taught in schools, but it can promote healthy and honest conversations about sex and the circulation of accurate information. Changing public policy to ensure that comprehensive sex ed is taught in all states is going to take awhile (*cough* Trump *cough*), so temporary solutions, like Hookup, are necessary to ensure young people are receiving accurate information.

Keep up the great work kids.

Can you pass this sex-ed quiz?

When students can’t rely on their classes to teach them the critical information they need to know about their bodies, they are likely to seek that information from other sources. The issue with this is that many of these sources are unreliable and can lead to further misconceptions about sex and relationships. A lot of times students use their friends or porn to teach them critical information about sexual activity and, in case you were not aware, these sources can be extremely inaccurate!

Basic sexual knowledge should not be something only some students receive, yet it unfortunately is. Limited information can be very detrimental to students, especially in high school and college, when many students are expanding their sexual experiences.

So, see for yourself – take this basic sex-ed quiz to see how much you know. (I’ll admit, I got quite a few wrong.)

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