Cartoon by Chan Lowe
I’m going to share a little personal information here. I grew up and went to public school in Texas. Most of my sexual education in school was late enough that I vividly remember it, with the first program happening in 5th grade. We didn’t talk much, but watched a video that I didn’t understand. I had to ask my mom what was happening later. She was horrified. The only thing that was verbally communicated by my teacher was a short script about menstruation, which grossed most of us out. That was it.
Fast forward to middle school, and our coach was required to dedicate one class to STD/STI information. We played some sort of game that demonstrated how quickly an STD can spread, and we were warned against having sex. That was the lesson. In high school, we took a health class that forced us to view horribly advanced cases of STDs and STIs up close and personal. Again, this was all we learned about.
The reason I bring all this up, is because I stumbled upon this article recently. Although it’s a bit old, the information remains mostly the same. A majority of states don’t require any sexual education classes in schools, and an even smaller amount talk about contraception. Why are we so afraid to be honest with kids about sex? Especially once they get to high school, and a good amount of their classmates begin to experiment and begin having sex, they should be well-informed. I still have to inform fellow college students that their perceptions or beliefs about sex are simply incorrect. I knew people who got pregnant because they didn’t think they could due to superstitions or just plain wrong information. I had to teach my previously sexually active boyfriend that he was poorly informed on several different areas once we began dating.
The bottom line, in my opinion, is that teaching abstinence-only programs is the same thing as ignoring contraception altogether. Sending our children out into the world without properly equipping them to succeed in as many areas as possible is sending our world in the wrong direction. Teaching children the facts about sex, contraception, STD/STIs, pregnancy, and other related topics isn’t pushing them to have sex. It’s giving them what they need to make their own, well-informed decisions about sex. It isn’t their education’s responsibility to sway them on such a personal topic. Perhaps we can simply leave the opinions to their parents. Wouldn’t that be novel?