Sex Education is Actually SO Important & Here's Why

Did you know that about one-in-four girls will become pregnant before they reach age 20? Or that the United States has not only the highest rate of teen pregnancy, but also the highest number of sexually transmitted infections? It's not really surprising if you look at the state of our sex education programs.

Here in California, we are lucky to have a statewide comprehensive and inclusive sex education curriculum that focuses on providing students with the skills needed to preserve their sexual health regarding pregnancies and STDs. It also works to promote healthy views on topics such as body image, gender roles and sexual orientation, as listed on California’s Department of Education website. However, not every state discusses these issues as openly as California does. The Guttmacher Institute website states that currently, only 13 states require information included in sex and HIV education programs to be medically accurate.

That means 37 states can essentially teach their students whatever they want regarding sex and STIs; many do so through abstinence-only curriculum. Abstinence-only programs are dangerous because they teach students that engaging in any form of sexual activity will only result in harmful consequences for themselves and their families, and that refraining from sex is the only way to be safe.

Other problems with abstinence-only education curriculum include the exaggerated statistics on birth control failure rates, inaccurate information on how STIs are spread and outdated gender stereotypes that define a relationship. Not only is it irresponsible of educators to disregard scientific facts backing condoms, other birth-control forms and medical conditions like HPV and HIV, but it's also dangerous for the students receiving this inaccurate information, who then engage in sexual activity knowing basically nothing. Yes, abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of STIs, but really, there’s no realistic way to ensure that students won’t have sex. So why not make sure they’re properly educated and prepared for it?If the United States was to institute a nationwide, comprehensive sex education program, here are the results: teen pregnancy rates would go down, STI and STD transmissions are far less likely and the stigma surrounding LGBT youth would be reduced, creating a more inclusive environment in which they can express themselves. Everyone has the right to a comprehensive sex education and the 37 states that don’t offer one need to get on board with the rest of the country so that we can ensure a sexually educated population.