The flying things and striped flies… Correction, the birds and the bees. Our education system seems to think the first statement is sufficient enough when it comes to teaching our youth about their sexual health and future endeavors.
The current standard in most states only requires schools to teach students about sexual health and practices once during their 6th-12th grade careers. The lessons they receive are only the barebones, with only the briefest biophysical descriptions and not much else. We as a society need to implement proper sex education in order to ensure more public safety and to reduce the number of sexual diseases that stem from improper education.
Currently, only 13 states require that the material being taught to young people is medically accurate.
Let that sink in.
By law, 37 states in our country are allowed to teach medically inaccurate sex ed if they so choose. This is simply not acceptable. We need to realize that when sex ed is being taught it needs to be 100% medically accurate and cover much more than the biophysical.
For instance, in the state of Texas schools are only required to teach abstinence, completely ignoring any other methods of contraception.
And The Lone Star state would like to believe that this method of teaching is working, however, statistics show that Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. According to the 2016 Texas STD Surveillance Report, Harris County has the largest number of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis cases in all of the 254 counties in Texas, and Houston has the highest number of any city in the state. Evidently, Texas mandated education is leaving out the most important information, such as the STD transmission rates and the impacts of engaging in sexual activity without any protection.
Similarly, there is an extreme lack of education for those who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is reported that states who lack LGBTQ+ resources and education have exacerbated levels of STDs in those who identify as bisexual, gay or those who participate in sexual acts with men. This issue stems from the fact that many education systems turn a blind eye to those who identify as something other than heterosexual.
Clovis Unified student Victoria Servin, 17, explained that she received “sex education” once during her 4th-12th grade career. She explains the lessons she was taught revolved around her menstrual cycle and the pains and disadvantages that come along with it.
Nathan Ruiz, 18, who attended Fresno Unified all throughout his educational career, summarized his LGBTQ+ sex education in one word: nonexistent.
Individuals would argue that if we teach more in-depth sexual education, we are pushing our students to engage in the act, but it is incredibly ignorant to believe that students aren’t partaking in these activities in the first place.
Proper sexual education would be very easy to implement in all 50 states because certain states already have extensive lesson plans and curriculum planned out. Iowa has a statewide program that requires HIV/AIDS education must be included in the curriculum along with information about other sexually transmitted diseases and HPV, with resources and education for those who identify as anything other than heterosexual. And all of their lessons must provide up-to-date, science-based, age-appropriate information.
To put it simply, implementation is easy and the benefits are insurmountable. When the proper education is placed into action, it is seen and reported that there is a drastic decrease in teen pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Thorough and accurate sexual education not only ensures that teens are protecting themselves, it also ensures that the next generation of adults are moving forward with the knowledge they need to create a safer, more knowledgeable and more understanding society.
Editor’s note: With the danger that many young queer people face every day in the eyes of prejudice and hate, a danger to their health is most often threatened. Although a lot of schools may emphasize safe sex, they only aim to keep heterosexual students safe, instead of young LGBTQ+ students too. For this weigh-in, we asked the youth of Fresno what they thought about the state of LGBTQ+ sex ed in their schools.