Here in the Bay Area, and all of California for that matter, we’re extremely lucky to have sex education in our schools. Berkeley High School students take informative, straightforward classes, and are able to ask any questions they have about sexual health. However, in many other places across America, teens lack this support. This poses the question: Should sex education classes be federally mandated in the United States? The answer is yes, obviously.
This may seem like a dated issue, but according to Cable News Network, only 24 out of the 50 states require sex education for high school students. Furthermore, the current presidential administration still promotes abstinence-only as the preferred method of sex education. Also called Sexual Risk Avoidance Education (SRAE) Program, this method teaches students that premarital intercourse is wrong, and that the only way to avoid pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) is to stay celibate. This can also include spreading false information about sexual health to dissuade students from having intercourse.
This may seem completely unlawful, but Planned Parenthood tells us that only 13 states mandate that sex education lessons be medically accurate.
Naturally, not teaching the full breadth of sexual education has some less than pleasing results. According to the The Washington Post, teens who are taught the abstinence-only method are 60 percent more likely to get pregnant than teens who receive comprehensive sex education. For decades, states with fewer sexual health classes have had a higher rate of unwanted pregnancy, and yet we still aren’t seeing progress. Why are so many people against having these classes in public schools?
Understanding sexual anatomy and being taught how to prevent pregnancy and STIs can still be beneficial whether or not the sex is premarital.
Many adults, parents especially, disagree with sex education. Some argue that it should be a parent’s rights, not the federal government, to teach their child the birds and the bees, especially if their views differ from that of the school. On a site called CatholicParents.org, ten reasons are listed for why public health class should be done away with. This document says things such as, “Public school sex-ed attacks and undermines the religious faith of many students. Catholic and Christian students who have been taught by their parents that premarital sex, birth control, and abortions are wrong must sit in class and hear an authority figure contradict their beliefs.” It’s understandable that some parents wouldn’t want their kids to be taught things that stray from their values, but this shouldn’t prevent every student from learning it.
Teachers who teach sex education aren’t pressuring students to have sex, and they should be respectful of everyone’s personal ideologies. Understanding sexual anatomy and being taught how to prevent pregnancy and STIs can still be beneficial whether or not the sex is premarital. Teens in the Bay Area often take for granted the amazing sexual education system we are exposed to. All over the nation, teens are put at risk of pregnancy and illness because they lack the proper knowledge. Federally required sex education is a policy that’s long overdue. Change in curriculum would do so much to improve the health and well-being of our youth.