Ignorance is Not Bliss

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 Image result for ontario sex edfundamentally 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.


Leave it to the Parents! A Refutation

As the discussion of mandating comprehensive sex education programming in public high schools rises and falls from the political spotlight the same arguments resurface. One of which proposes that the responsibility of teaching sex education to children and teens falls on the parents, thus, allowing for more particular control of the content provided. This argument is often paired with the belief that the government should stay out of structuring curriculums around a topic as broad and individualized as sex. However, it’s shown that methods such as this are rather ineffective and non-comprehensive.m f symbols on bks

The debate is a heated one, as exemplified by an Omaha Public Schools meeting where the discussion of updating the three-decade-old sex education curriculum resulted in a brawl between parents, some arguing against the change with the belief that, “parents should lead the private discussion of sexual expression.” This argument, however, does not guarantee that every child’s right to education about their own bodies and sexual safety would be met. It is more common now that the responsibility is shared between not only parents, but also health workers, teachers, and schools. This system works more effectively to provide coverage of a broader range of topics, as the student is provided education regarding a variety of perspectives, and avoids the pitfalls of abstinence-only sex ed.

The reality is also that the majority of parents and young people in America support the implementation of these comprehensive programs. So, while authors at ‘The Blaze’ and other more conservative individual’s argue that it is the duty of parents, the truth is that most parents don’t want to have that responsibility and young people don’t want to hear their parents version of ‘the talk’.

The bigger problem, however, is that parents (as great as they think they might be) may not provide comprehensive, all-covering sex education. Parents are more likely pass on beliefs that they hold to be true, many of which lean more on the side of opinion rather than fact. However, evidence shows that children provided with quality sex education through school are not more likely to become sexually active or increase sexual activity, contract STD’s or face adverse health effects. Teens with comprehensive sex education were also 50 percent less likely to become pregnant.

While it is important that parents start a dialogue with their children about sex and it’s various possible consequences it is crucial that public schools and government programs provide a standard that means every child receives the accurate knowledge to give them the basic need that is understanding their own body, their own sexuality, sexual health, the nature of consent, and basic biology.