The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Growing up in the South has its pros and cons, especially when it comes down to the education aspect of it all. A pro is that I was already used to the culture and knew I wanted to go to an SEC school. A con is that our school systems teach us abstinence education, rather than sex education.
What I mean by this is that they're teaching us how to not have sex. They are telling us: don't have sex, bad things will happen. We've all seen the movie Mean Girls, when the gym teacher says "Don't have sex. Because you will get pregnant and die." That's exactly what my teachers were telling us. It was never about how to practice it safely, it was to scare us so that we didn't even think about it.
What is abstinence?
Abstinence is the main form of birth control that the education system teaches us. They briefly go over the pill, the implant, the IUD, but it's like a quick five minutes for each — and don't even get me started on the negative connotation that they all have. I remember being 14 or 15 and starting birth control because of my period as well as hormonal acne, and my mom was not the happiest about it. I can't blame her though, there is such a negative connotation about it for no reason.
The correct definition for abstinence is "avoiding all types of intimate genital contact." I'm not saying that teachers need to tell us to have sex, but I wish there was more emphasis on how to do it safely. That's the biggest issue that I have with the education system.
First of all, it's literally called birth control. That right there calls for immediate judgement. It's fair to assume that when a woman has a birth control method, she must be having active sex. That is incorrect in so many ways. If I were to ask the women in my huge lecture classes how many of them are on birth control for the only purpose to be to not get pregnant, I guarantee you I would not see as many hands as you'd think.
Birth control has so many benefits. It helps with acne, it helps to lessen the pain of your periods, it even helps periods go away sometimes. I'm not asking the medical field to just completely change the name of what this medication is called, but rather teach it in a way where it's more than just stopping a woman from getting pregnant.
In sixth grade we were all scarred from the horrid pictures of STDs. I mean nobody wants one, especially not after sitting in a three-hour-long classroom with someone's chlamydia infection on the screen. What do we do to prevent them? Simple — don't have sex. That's easier said than done, especially when you're talking to a bunch of horny pre-teens going through puberty.
Instead of preaching about abstinence and saying that it's the only way to know for sure you will not die from an STD, teach us how to use condoms. Teach us the other types of STD preventions such as the female condom or a dental dam. Make them more accessible as well, or free even. Male condoms should not be the only thing that comes free from the health center, and I can't even imagine the quality of them.
Teach actual sex education
I feel like this goes without saying, but the system needs to be fixed. I remember hearing in 10th grade about a student who was pregnant and had to sit through a class of sex ed. My biology teacher told us that it pained her to discuss "don't have sex" while someone clearly did. Imagine being that student, already judged for her actions, to have a teacher stand up and teach about her poor judgement.
The education system should teach actual sexual education. We need to know more about the different kinds of STDs and how to safely prevent them with more than just a "don't do it." There needs to be more emphasis on birth control as a good thing instead of something that makes a young girl a wh*re if she takes it. I hope the future of sex ed gets better, and that young adults are able to learn about the safety of it all instead of the terrible things.