Wake Up America – We Need Sex Education

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the following editorial are the opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Patriot Post staff, adviser, the LCHS faculty or administration, or GISD.

In light of the current hushed nature about teaching sex education, it’s important that sex education doesn’t get brushed under the rug like many other important concepts. According to data from the Education Commission of the States, only 38 states even have sex education laws. Of those states, 30 of them had abstinence provisions and eight of them did not.

With this information, the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center grouped the states into four groups: 0 – having no emphasis on abstinence, 1 – covering abstinence, 2 – promoting abstinence and 3 – stressing abstinence. Texas exhibited a level 3. Despite having such a high stress on abstinence, it is ranked the fourth highest for teen birth rates, just below Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Arkansas (who also are almost all level 3s). Thus, abstinence-only sex education is not working, and America, Texas, needs to wake up to reality.

“[It’s] not just unrealistic, but it leaves our young people without the information and skills that they need,” Laura Lindberg, coauthor of the a reproductive health research report, said in an interview with NPR. “We fail our young people when we don’t provide them with complete and medically accurate information.”

Of course, everyone knows that abstinence is the only surefire method of preventing all STIs, STDs and unwanted pregnancies. However, the point of the matter is that just because abstinence is being stressed in schools, it does not mean that students are following through with the advice.

In a recent report by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), it said that the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) conducted a survey across 39 states and 21 large urban school districts of teenage sexual activity. The survey found that 40 percent of high school students engaged in sexual intercourse in 2017. From that 40 percent, 46 percent of students said they did not use a condom and 14 percent of students said they used no method to prevent pregnancy.

“It is imperative for students to learn about contraceptives because in high school, they are beginning to have more freedoms,” senior Mei Lyphing Troeung said. “With these freedoms, they could could easily do as they please, which includes having sex. They should at least be educated on contraceptives to understand [how] to have sex and still prevent pregnancy with the use of protections and practice of safe sex. With this education well-known amongst teens, it would drop the pregnancy rate significantly, in my opinion.”

This is not the first time American teenagers have proven to go against what educators and political officials are pushing. In 1971, President Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” and since then, America has been up and down with fighting against the spread of illicit drug usage (illicit drugs meaning the use of illegal drugs, including marijuana and the misuse of prescription drugs). However, the war on drugs has proven to be ineffective. From 2009 to 2016, there has been an increase in drug usage in Americans of ages 12 and older from 6.6 percent to 8.7 percent. Telling young adults to not do drugs hasn’t worked and neither has telling them to not have sex. It’s time to wake up to reality and start telling young adults all the facts about sex education.

“Abstinence education does not benefit anyone,” senior Anne Kalinowsky said. “Teaching young people to wait until they are married to have sex is useless. Teenagers are going to have sex no matter what. The difference is that when taught abstinence, they are far more at risk of the consequences that come from unsafe sex. There’s no upside to teaching abstinence in place of actual education.”

The simplistic “Just Say No” campaign did not work for Nancy Reagan with the war on drugs, and it is not working for sex education courses; it is a unrealistic and naive way of thinking. If students are going to engage in sexual intercourse, just give them the correct information. According to a report by the CDC, almost 50 percent of schools do not teach how to obtain contraceptives and almost 40 percent do not teach about the methods of contraception.

“Even though there is a wide range of contraceptives available to the public, most high school students don’t know what they do, let alone how to obtain them,” senior Madison Wester said. “Educating our youth about different birth controls – from condoms to pill – shows students that there are ways to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and infections outside of abstinence. It’s important to educate all genders on the importance of contraceptives. It’s both party’s responsibility to be safe and smart, and if safe sex education is limited to certain genders then there is still a large gap and possible misinformation regarding sex.”

There are lots of way to get involving in helping your area or school district. Contact your senators and representatives, and tell them to put an end to abstinence-only programs. Get up to date on the laws in your state and your area. Teenagers are going to have intercourse whether they are told ‘no’ or not, so it’s important they receive information about the methods of being safe. So America, instead of snoozing the alarm on the rising number of teenage pregnancies and the reality of teenage sexual activity, do something about it. Wake up to reality and give students comprehensive sex education.