Sex education classes are meant to be a time for young people to finally get some straight answers about what’s going on with their bodies and their hormones. While there are some classes and some teachers that fulfill these expectations, there are also places in the American school system that are so biased that the sex ed classes turn into nothing but a huge scare tactics rally, talking about how young people have no business knowing anything about sex because they’re not going to be having any of it anyway. Even as recently as early 2010 these debates were raging on in places like Wisconsin, where teachers were being brought up on charges for teaching basic sex ed and explaining common things like using condoms and other birth control options.
Some people might see nothing wrong with keeping young people in the dark about sex and sexuality. It saves them the time and trouble of going through the awkward explanations, and they might feel justified that sex is only something you do once you’re married to someone. For proponents of this view, few as they might be, do you remember what it’s like to be sixteen? The raging hormones, the wet dreams, figuring out that maybe the opposite sex isn’t right for you, growing into your identity as an adult… and adding into that the constantly changing social status and the expanding freedoms you have, a little straight talk might be helpful.
It’s been a little while since your author was in high school, but I recall the sex ed class that I went through. It was a list of minor biological changes that had started for me about two years previous (I come from strong, Northern stock), and an exhaustive list of all the horrible things that sex can lead to. AIDS was covered, as was herpes, syphillis and half a dozen other STD’s. Never once in the six weeks the class lasted did we cover how to properly wear a condom, what forms of birth control were on the market or any of the very good and positive things about sex. After chatting with some of the girls in the other course (not an easy thing to do at 16) I found out they’d gotten pretty much the same treatment and message. Sex is dangerous, don’t do it.
This attitude, whether it’s a leftover from America’s Puritan and religious roots or we inherited it from England before then, is an extremely dangerous one to have. Teenage pregnancy rates in America are higher than most other European countries directly as a result of lack of education and access to proper information. If teens can’t get the information they need in class, they’re going to go to other sources for it. Those sources, like friends, the Internet and trashy romance novels, might be interesting, but chances are they’re only marginally correct.
This phenomenon isn’t unique to sex either. For instance, America is the world leader in accidental gun deaths. Canada is a country with just as many, if not more, guns than America due to all of the hunting and animal protection necessities. However, the education young people are given about firearms stops them from treating the gun like a toy, and it shows them how to properly handle it. As such, accidental gun deaths are extremely low.
Why are sex ed classes in America crippling their students? What is so wrong with giving them the truth about sex? Sex is a natural, healthy behavior and anyone who thinks you can get married to someone without any type of sex beforehand to feel out each other’s likes and tastes must have found the one they were meant for if that happens because it’s a horrible idea to buy a car without so much as one test drive. Yes students should be aware of the potential hazards and diseases like AIDS and children, but they should be given ALL of the tools to stop those conditions should they choose to have sex because once that student turns 18, there’s nothing you can do to stop them anymore and it’s a little late for education then.