Blue Prints

Sexual education must be consistently taught

Katie Marx, Sports Editor

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Katie Marx
Sports Editor

In my four years here, I never once had a sex education class. Now that I’ve just finished my last semester of physical education, my chances of taking sex ed have dropped to zero. My sex education started and ended in 7th grade, where we learned about puberty and the human anatomy. That’s it, at least for my class. I know most other Wellness classes take some form of sex ed, but my schedule never got the memo.
We never learned about STDs, contraceptive methods, or the different kinds of sex. When I had health class during high school, I learned first aid and nutrition. Although these are also important topics, I still haven’t learned sex ed.
It is inevitable that people are going to have sex. Sex is how we reproduce and continue the human population. Many people begin to have sexual encounters in high school, and it is important they know exactly what to expect and any repercussions that may happen. The problem is that across the country, American students are not getting adequate sex ed. There are many places in America where teaching sex ed is an option, but not a requirement.
When teaching sex ed is optional several problems arise. Some students, like myself, simply don’t get an education. This in turn leads to several problems in itself. Students who lack a sex education are not prepared to the same extent as students who receive one. They may understand that there are risks such as pregnancy and STDs, but may not fully comprehend the magnitude of which these can affect their lives. Additionally, when students are not being educated about sex in a classroom setting, what they do learn about sex is from the internet, TV, and what they hear in the hallways, which more often than not is an inaccurate depiction, or one that does not divulge the entire truth. When students believe these inaccuracies it can cause problems later down the line when they do decide they are ready to have sex.
Another issue that crops up when teaching sex ed is optional is that students end up with varying degrees of sex ed. When teaching sex ed is an option, a teacher is completely free to teach whatever they want; there is no set curriculum. Not having a curriculum means not all students are learning what they need to know. For example, if a teacher teaches that condoms are to stop the spread of STDs, then two people who decide to have sex together may not use one because they are STD free, and the girl may get pregnant. On the other hand, if a teacher teaches that condoms are to prevent pregnancy, then two people may decide that they don’t need to use a condom because they either want a child, or the female is on birth control, and may en

Graphic by Rachel Santostefano

d up with STDs.
Additionally, very few sex ed classes touch upon the subject of sexual orientation and how it affects sex, a topic that is becoming increasingly relevant. A teacher may also choose to teach abstinence, but this does little to help students who do decide to have sex. When there isn’t a curriculum, not all the necessary information is being presented to the student, which can harm their health and disrupt their life. This lack of a curriculum can be seen in Middletown, as in middle school, I learned about human anatomy and puberty, but people with the same teacher learned about contraceptives. Even if a student does end up taking sex ed, it’s unlikely that they’ll receive a comprehensive education when there is a lack of curriculum.
A major argument against sex ed is that parents may not want their child learning about sex, contraceptives, and STDs, among other things, for religious or personal beliefs. However, living in a country founded on the idea of separation of church and state, the beliefs of some people should not dictate our educations. There has always been the option for a student to opt out of sex ed for personal or religious reasons, and that option should remain. However, other students should not be denied an education because of either the religious or personal beliefs of people in the community, or because a teacher does not want to teach the subject.
There is little harm that arises from comprehensive sex ed. In the Netherlands, students start learning about sex ed in kindergarten. Children start off learning about love and relationships, and as they get older, they learn about sexual diversity, sexual assertiveness, and sexual development. Although people often believe that sex ed makes adolescents more comfortable with having sex, and therefore have sex younger, teens in the Netherlands do not have sex at an earlier age than other European countries or the United States. Research has shown that a majority of Dutch teens were happy with their first sexual experience, meanwhile 66% of sexually active U.S. teens reported that they wished they had waited longer to have sex. Nine out of ten Dutch teenagers used contraceptives (which are easily accessed in the Netherlands) the first time they had sex. Teen pregnancy rates are five times lower in the Netherlands than they are in the U.S. Meanwhile sex ed in the United States, is non inclusive, focusing on heterosexual relationships, and failing people. Four out of ten millennials reported that the sex education they received was not helpful.
Sexual development is a normal and natural process that all people go through at a young age, and it is important that they have access to the right information. Sex ed should be mandatory and there should be a precise curriculum that should be followed. This curriculum should cover not just sex, pregnancy, and STDs, but also relationships and feelings. Students need to learn about sex in order to be comfortable with their decisions and sexuality. For most, sex is a reality they will soon be facing and it’s important for their safety and their partner’s that they know the facts. When they don’t learn about sex in a classroom setting, they learn about it from their friends and the media, posing greater harm than good in most cases. Sex ed needs to be taught in schools, for the simple good of the entire
community.

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Sexual education must be consistently taught