Honestly, I barely even remember the sex ed I received in school. Not because I’m extremely old or have a terrible memory, but because it was just that insignificant. I know that there was a wooden penis called “Woody” which one blushing student had to outfit with a condom in front of the entire class. I know there was a question box which was filled with exclusively joke questions because we all defaulted to making a joke of the excruciatingly awkward situation rather than learning. And lastly, I know that I learned not one useful thing.
I used to read the back of my mother’s tampon boxes over and over to try and prepare myself for that pivotal moment, and in terms of sex, my information came from other kids, a particularly open babysitter, movies, and Google. Up until about grade 4 I actually thought “sex” was a swear word. The reason I feel compelled and inspired to reflect upon my sex ed experience and dive into sex ed as a topic is some news I have recently heard about a local controversy here in Vancouver:
“The Vancouver school board and a conservative activist are tussling over “Sex at Lunch”, a voluntary program at Lord Byng Secondary School for students in Grades 10 to 12 that sexual education advocates say is unique, inclusive and engaging.”
– An Article by The Vancouver Sun
It’s pretty easy to believe that everyone celebrates and advocates for outstanding sexual education that is sex positive, approachable, and inclusive, but this isn’t always the case. Because most of the people in my circles share my views that sex ed is important, necessary, and highly underrated, I often forget that there are still people out there who don’t agree. I was so saddened to hear that the INCREDIBLE sex ed at lunch program at Byng was being scrutinized as I have heard endless wonderful things about it from former students. So, friends, let’s talk sex ed!
Here are some statistics about sex ed in the US from a study conducted by Planned Parenthood:
What Do Parents Think About Sex Ed?
93% of Parents supported sex education in middle schools, 96% of parents supported having sex ed in high schools. Though we wish it were 100% across the board, 93% & 96% is not too shabby!
Laws and Policies Surrounding Sex Ed?
24 States mandate sex education and 34 states mandate HIV education. This being said, “decisions are often left up to individual school districts.”
What Sorts of Sex Ed Are US Teens Getting?
Though it seems sex ed is happening in many schools, the content is tragically lacking. The CDC recommends 16 topics as essential in terms of sex ed, but the study found that less than half of high schools and only a fifth of middle schools teach all 16. The 16 topics include things such as basic info, HIV prevention, info about STI transmission, and more. In fact, the study goes on to say that “in 2011–2013, 43% of adolescent females and 57% of adolescent males did not receive information about birth control before they had sex for the first time.” What!?
Comprehensive Sex Education
So, let’s talk about the benefits of comprehensive sex ed! A study conducted by Advocates for Youth found that Comprehensive sex ed is proven to reduce:
- Early sexual initiation
- Teen pregnancy
- Number of sexual partners
- Unprotected sex
Abstinence-Only Sex Education
Now, what about absence-only sex education? If you ask me, it’s damaging, dangerous, dated, and counterproductive. But, instead of listening to me, why don’t we check out the stats? The Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States pulled together national data to show the effects of both comprehensive and abstinence-only sex ed programs. Here are some of their findings in terms of the abstinence-only side of things:
- Abstinence-only programs aren’t linked to risk reduction for teen pregnancy when compared with no sex education
- In comparing abstinence-only programs with comprehensive sex education, comprehensive sex education was associated with a 50% lower risk of teen pregnancy
- Abstinence-only programs were not linked to a delay in the initiation of vaginal intercourse
- Comprehensive sex education was linked to reduced reports of vaginal intercourse
We should not feel ashamed to ask questions or talk about sex, so this is the responsibility of our educators and role models to open up the conversation and create a safe-space for us to ask and discuss. Lacking information is beyond dangerous, so let’s work together to try and get as much correct info out there as possible.
PsychNSex Wants to Help!
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- Join our private Facebook Group! This is a safe space for sharing, conversation, questions, and so much more. This is YOUR community, so you can make it whatever you want. Click here and submit your request to join! (We’ll say yes)
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Vancouver school board and conservative activist tussle over sex-ed pr