It’s Time to Raise the Standard for Sex Education

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Calum Hjelm, Op/Ed Editor

Students today all across America are not getting the sex education they need to be safe and healthy because of the states non-requirement for researched sex education. 

 

America gives schools the choice to incorporate sex education into their curriculum, but a lot of them op-out to avoid touchy subjects or angry parents. Schools that do teach sex education tread lightly: 30 states stress abstinence-only education, and 11 states teach abstinence in a researched curriculum. Students need a comprehensive researched curriculum to be properly informed about this vital topic.

 

J public health states, “It is estimated that the federal government has spent nearly $2 billion in abstinence-only funding since the mid-1990s.” While Obama was in office, he shifted funding from abstinence-only education into the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. In 2010, the bill was made to fund $114 million into this evidence-based sexual education program. This program taught students to make educated decisions about their body and provide helpful information beyond the realm of abstinence. 

 

However, when Trump was in office, he funded $61 million into the Sexual Risk Avoidance Model (SRA). According to the Family Research Council, SRA is just another word for abstinence, and they call sex “risky behavior” and compare it to drug or alcohol use. 

 

Yes, sex can be risky, and abstinence is the most concrete way to prevent unwanted pregnancy or STDs. However, stressing abstinence makes students feel unheard in their actual needs and causes mistrust between the student body and the curriculum. A child-development teacher from Woodbridge stated, “An abstinence-only curriculum only serves those who are in alignment with those values. In a public and diverse school environment, stressing only one option would do a great disservice to the student body as a whole, whether they are in alignment with it or not.”

 

SRA also teaches students not to participate in sexual activity before marriage–a religiously motivated argument. Religious beliefs should not be mixed with sexual education because the state and the church are separated. Not all students share the same ideals, and some religions care more about purity than education.

 

When students are uneducated, they turn to the internet or friends for information. An anonymous Woodbridge student explained, “My sex education came from friends, and I was really misinformed because of it.” Misinformation from the internet and peers leads to ignorance about contraceptives, putting them at risk.

 

Sex education needs to be mandated in schools. Abstinence education needs to end, and the overfunding from the government needs to be directed elsewhere. Without this change, students can compromise their safety, health, and relationships in the future.