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Growing up in a private Christian school, I realized how prevalent the sex stigma was. Nobody wanted to talk about it. Sex was a ‘sin’, it was ‘wrong’, The only sex education I got was, “keep my legs shut” or maybe “value my body”.  My teacher even went as far as to suggesting that if we had sex before marriage, we were asking for an STD. My school must have thought their students agreed with all of their values and morals, even though every student was their own person. In my time at that school, sex was categorized as something shameful, never as something beautiful. In an abstinence-only education, sex was scary and sex was intimidating. I felt like I had no choice over my own body as these stigmas were pushed onto me. 

Unfortunately, I am not alone. Private schools and most public schools lack the proper sex education needed. Un-education in sex has led to increased cases of STDs/STIs and teen pregnancy; this can be shown through several different states. For example, when the House Bill 999 was passed in Mississippi, schools could choose between abstinence-only or abstinence-plus sex education policies. A study by Mathematica found that students in abstinence-only programs are just as likely to have sex as other students. This lack of proper education led Mississippi to have the highest rates of gonorrhea in 2018 (most cases were 15-24 year olds). Along with Mississippi, South Carolina is lacking in the sex education realm. According to South Carolina law, schools cannot give information about sexual practices outside of marriage, practices unrelated to reproduction, access to contraception, and abortion education. These students lack the proper education of safe sex and how to prevent pregnancy. The abstinence only program shushes the topic of sex even more, making it something to be ashamed of. 

It has also been proven that states who emphasize abstinence only programs have the highest rates of teen pregnancy. In the United States, 31% of teenage pregnancies end in abortion. With almost half of the United State’s population identifying as pro-life, it is strange to see so much un-education around sex. If someone is pro-life, don’t you think they would want to prevent teen pregnancy to lower abortion rates? Don’t you think they would want birth control, condoms, etcetera to be easily accessible? 

To combat the issue of teen pregnancy, some U.S. states have stepped up. For example, the state of California passed the California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act, almost two decades ago. This act required no religious bias to be involved in sex education as well as teaching medically-accurate material. Because of the act, the teen pregnancy rate dropped over 50%, and the abortion rate dropped too. Even though California has woken up to the issue, other states have not. According to Planned Parenthood, 37 states still require abstinence to be included in sex education, and only 18 states require information to be shared about birth control. Without education of birth control/condoms, the pregnancy, abortion, and disease/infection rate will only increase. It is naive to assume that teens do not have sex, and they deserve to make that choice with the proper education. These problems can be resolved if states and educators wake up and see the issue at hand. 

Caroline Surface

Coastal Carolina '25

Caroline is an Interactive Journalism Communication major with a minor in Film & Production Studies at Coastal Carolina University. She is from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and has two cats and one dog. She was on the yearbook team all throughout high school, which is where she found her passion of telling stories through writing.
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