Sex Education in Schools: Absolutely Necessary

Naomi Altman

Schools have a responsibility to teach Sex Education to their students. If the goal of a school is to prepare their students for the real world, there is nothing more imperative than Comprehensive sex education. Without being taught knowledge about their bodies, how Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections (STD/STI) and the human reproductive system work, information on contraceptives, students will not be prepared to make the right choices. There are people who disagree. They may say that sex education goes against their religious/moral beliefs as teaching about sex goes against the Christian value of abstinace or “waiting until marrage”. They might think that by educating kids on sex, it will make them want to try it out and will “pollute their minds”. However, research that was published by the Journal of Adolescent Health demonstrates that students make safer choices, are more informed, and have better outcomes when sex education is comprehensive. This results in fewer unplanned pregnancies and more protection against STDs and STIs. 

This is a very divided topic. There are currently 12 states where abstinence is required to be covered and 24 states where sex education must stress abstinence. Currently, only 20 states even have sex education mandated. Only 13 states require that sex education be medically accurate when taught. In terms of non-heteronormative sex education, only 9 states require that it be inclusive of Sexual Orientation and 7 even go as far to mandate that sex education must be negative toward people with different sexual orientations. Interestingly enough, Alabama, a state that does not mandate sex education and when it has it does not require it to be medically accurate and stresses absitance, has both one of the highest teen birth rates in the country and one of the highest rates of STD cases per 1,000 people in the 15–24 age range (40.388). While there are certainly other factors at play, this is important to note and correlates with the research from the Journal of Adolescent Health. 

There are several organizations that lobby our government in order to fight for what they believe is right. There are many groups that campaign against a diverse sexuality curriculum and are opposed to comprehensive sex education in public schools. One of the main arguments of these groups is that it takes away parental rights/control and “encourages ‘immoral’ premarital sexual promiscuity in the young.”  Some of the National organizations that have criticized comprehensive sexuality education in schools include Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, the American Life League, Parents Roundtable, and the Christian Coalition. Organizations such as the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) oppose these campaigns and provide ways to fight against it. They recommend organizing community support and requesting to keep abstinence-only programs out of schools. 

This is a very contested issue with strong opinions on either side. I believe that knowledge is power. The more our nation’s students know about their bodies, the safer they will be. I believe that comprehensive sex education is a necessity for our country’s youth. 

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