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Let’s Talk About Sex Education

The state of sexual education in this country, quite frankly, sucks. You would think in the 21st century we would have gotten past the conservativeness and repression of the past, but apparently not.

The Huffington Post put together these maps that show exactly what is being taught in Sex Ed around the country, and I recommend checking them all out, but here are the highlights: 29 out of 50 states do not require sexual education as part of primary education and 19 states require that Sex Ed include information on abstinence, but not contraception.

But why is this happening? To most of us, comprehensive Sex Ed makes sense: it lowers the rates of teen pregnancies and STDs, and is just useful information. Well, it seems to me that there are two factors behind this.

First, we’ve got the conservatives that just want to teach abstinence. In fact, this Bloomberg article shows that abstinence-only programs are actually getting increased funds from the federal government. I feel the need to point out that the government is at the same trying to defund Planned Parenthood, but I digress.

Here’s the thing: IT DOESN’T WORK! Abstinence-only sex ed does not work, and never has, because teens are going to have sex. But without the education, they don’t have safe sex. Here’s an article that shows that the states with the highest teen pregnancy rates are also the ones with abstinence-only programs. And the ones with the lowest teen pregnancy rates provide the most comprehensive programs. The same is also true of HIV rates (and, most likely, other STDs).

The second problem is conservative parents, who believe anything that actually contains useful information about sex is too “graphic” to be taught. I’ll give you an example: in the Cupertino School District in California, parents are upset over a new Sex Ed curriculum. What does it contain that is so scandalous? It explains the different kinds of sex (vaginal, oral, anal), and talks about homosexuality. And it’s not like this going to be taught to second graders – it would be taught to 7th or 8th graders and high-schoolers.

Now, I’m not advocating we show porn in classrooms (though, teenagers are bound to find it online themselves), but shouldn’t we explain to them what sex actually is? It is possible to provide them with the information without being gratitious. And homosexuality is such an important topic to teach in order to increase tolerance.

Teenagers should be learning about sex in an educational environment, because otherwise they’re going to look online, and who knows if they’re getting accurate information that way (see my earlier comment about porn).

Seriously, it’s 2017, not 1950. This shouldn’t still be an issue.

Photos: 12, 3, 4

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Irina Kovari

U Mass Amherst

I'm a senior marketing major at UMass, with a passion for writing and equal rights. I'm on MASSPIRG at UMass, drink too much caffeine, and eat too much chocolate.
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