Part of my goal is to get some comprehensive, inclusive sex ed out there. Based off my experience in a high school health class, I can assume that most teens, at least in Alaska, aren’t getting the information they need. I was taught a week long lesson of abstinence only sex ed and was a list of contraceptives and their pregnancy prevention rates. I learned more about sex and my body from the period tracker app on my phone than I did from a course that is supposed to prepare me for the rest of my life. That’s a huge problem. Teens aren’t being informed, and so many end up being misinformed. Late night google searches often lead to misinformation. Most teenagers don’t know how or where to get medically accurate, comprehensive sex education and it is vital that they do. I’m not blaming anyone, but sex ed in high school is due for an update.
First off, I’m going to define ‘abstinence only’ sex ed. It teaches high school students not to have sex outside of marriage. It sometimes teaches safe sex (male condom usage), birth control (the pill), but not always. There’s a few problems here. First off, male condoms aren’t the only option. Neither is the pill. The problem isn’t abstinence. The problem is students are only being taught abstinence. Abstinence is great if that’s what’s right for you. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which is done by the CDC, and last administered in 2015, on average 11 out of every 30 Alaskan high school students have had sex. That means that under the current curriculum about 1/3 of adolescent Alaskans aren’t getting the information they need to be having safe sex.
No matter how you feel about sex, it should be taught safely. Teenagers should be getting the information that they need to have sex safely. The consequences are awful and are already being seen. According to the CDC, Alaska consistently ranks within the top 10 of states when it comes to chlamydia and gonorrhea cases. By the way, I wasn’t taught what either of these STIs were. Alaska also ranks in the top 15 for teenage pregnancy.
I understand many people, especially in Alaska, aren’t open about sex. They don’t have to be, but I’d like to ask the schools to teach teenagers how to put on a condom, or at least where to get one. Also, I never heard the word clitoris in any sort of health class. If the curriculum doesn’t teach sex as pleasure, that’s acceptable, but everyone should know their own anatomy. In the long run, it will benefit everyone.
Another issue is the heteronormativity of sex ed. One of the arguments against LGBTQ+ sex ed is that not all teenagers identify as such. Well, not all teenagers are straight either. Teaching inclusive sex ed will not “turn your children gay”, it will just allow those who aren’t straight to have sex safely, just as their straight peers.
The only protection that is taught is a condom and those are only the condoms that go on penises. For those who aren’t so keen on penises, how do they have safe sex? It’s not taught in school. I didn’t know what a dental dam was until I saw the term in a Buzzfeed article. No one should have to depend on information from Buzzfeed to be safe. Many people don’t know how sex between two women even works. The same can be said for men. Anal sex is one of the less common ways same sex male couple have sex. Still, that’s what is talked about the most. It is not taught safely, either. As society becomes more inclusive, so should education. What I’m getting at is that not all sex is male to female or involves any sort of penetration. There are options and all should be taught safely.
Lastly, sex ed is not taught universally. In Alaska sex ed is not in good shape. The information I got was seriously lacking, but I was one of the luckier ones. In rural communities of Alaska, some don’t have any sex ed at all due to funding issues. This only adds to the problems that are already present. There is so much work to be done here, and this post is just the beginning of a very long series.
Every good wish,