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.
(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.
As the call for comprehensive sexual education grows louder, the push-back against it only intensifies. Claims that comprehensive sex ed encourage and trivialize sex are rampant, with many arguing that informing students about birth control options, abortions, and sexual health provides students with a means of engaging in premarital sex. However, there is absolutely no evidence to support that teens who are taught comprehensive sex ed are more likely to engage in premarital sex.
This knowledge does not stop opponents from claiming comprehensive sex ed is fundamentally flawed. Lori Cole, executive director of the Eagle Forum, a conservative lobby group, argues that comprehensive sex ed sends mixed signals to students by giving kids more information about risky behaviors rather than simply teaching them to avoid those behaviors. She argues that teaching students about contraception yet advising them to wait to have sex gives students conflicting messages about when to have sex. The fact of the matter though, is that teens are already having premarital sex, whether they are being taught comprehensive sex ed or not. In fact, Mississippi, which predominantly teaches students that abstinence is the only responsible choice, has one of the highest teen birth rates in the country. We need to stop fooling ourselves with this idea that all young people are saintly virgins and start actually preparing them for the awkward, yet important, realities of sex. Teaching teens about contraceptives is not going to motivate them to have sex, because clearly they are already self-motivated enough; comprehensive sexual education simply gives them the tools they need to be safe.
Contrary to the beliefs of its opponents, comprehensive sex ed does not entail handing out condoms and saying “have fun kids.” It still promotes abstinence as the most effective way of preventing STIs and unwanted pregnancies. In fact, comprehensive sex ed is shown to reduce the frequency of sex by almost 30%. Furthermore, when people fight against comprehensive sex ed, they aren’t just fighting against contraception knowledge, they are also fighting against knowledge of healthy relationships, the avoidance of unwanted sexual advancements, and medically accurate information.
So, no, Lori, comprehensive sex ed does not send mixed signals or promote premarital sex, it just acknowledges the fact that teens are going to have sex so they might as well be prepared.
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.
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.)