I always wanted to write about the American school system failing its students when it comes to sex education, but it wasn’t until recently, after posting about my flaws and interests when it comes to dating, that I started receiving countless messages, all positive and none weird, complimenting how I could talk about sex and intimacy so freely. Someone even thanked me for normalizing cleavage--you’re welcome.
The truth is: I am comfortable talking about sex if asked in person. Again, in person will always be different than Instagram, because when you meet a stranger or make new friends, you don’t really know what they’re comfortable talking about or what their values are. I want my audience to have an open mind when it comes to topics, that’s why if a couple thousand people unfollow me because of a post on social democracy, Nestle killing babies, or biblical texts' boasting the false value of virginity, I’m okay with it, because I value followers who aren’t afraid to disagree in the comment section, rather than the ones that get offended over a well-researched opinion and run off.
Back to sex education: when I was fifteen I remember going to Barnes and Nobles with friends and surrounding the bookshelf with therapy and self help books, because that’s where all the books on sex position picture books were. We’d just sit there and laugh. But next to all the sex books were sex education books. So little did my parents or my friends know, but on my own I would go to Barnes and Nobles and read these books, because not only did it give insight to physical health, but mental health when it came to sex.
A few books I would recommend:
Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha
The Sexual Spectrum by Olivia Skene Johnson, PhD
The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
The point is that 15 year olds growing up in a don’t ask don’t tell household shouldn’t only have a bookstore as their resource for sex education. All I remember from my high school SexEd class was learning about STDs and the physical aspects of reproduction.
Most countries in Europe learn about pleasure, orientation, birth control, and sexual relationships. Europe also has fewer STDs and teenage pregnancies. Netherlands, one of the happiest and gender-equal country in the world, begins sexual education at age 4. Not so crazy when American teenagers give birth to babies five times the rate of the Dutch. The Dutch also have open conversations about masturbation for both sexes, which results them feeling more empowered about their sexuality. In Germany, schools teach everything from how to properly use contraception to how to reach orgasm.
There is a huge problem with the american sexual education system. Of America’s 50 states:
24 states and the District of Columbia require public schools to teach sex education
9 states require discussion of LGBTQ identities and inclusive relationships
8 states require sex ed classes to mention consent
Half the country is pushing abstinence-only which is not effective whatsoever
33 states and the District of Columbia require instruction about HIV/AIDS
20 states require medically accurate curriculum.
38 states and the District of Columbia require school districts to allow parental involvement
Four states require parental consent before a child receives instruction
35 states and the District of Columbia allow parents to opt-out on behalf of their child.
Teen birth rates are linear to a crappy sex education. Let’s have a look at the states with the highest teen birth rates in the country, shall we?
Arkansas (32.8% teen birth rate): Does not require sex education
Mississippi (31%)i: Abstinence-based sex ed curriculum
Oklahoma (28.7%): Teaching Sex Ed is left up to the school board. If taught, it does not have to be medically accurate, must stress absitence.
Louisiana (29.1%): Does not require sex education
Kentucky (29%): Abstinence-based sex ed curriculum
New Mexico (27.9%): Does not require sex education to be medically accurate
Texas (27.6%): Does not require sex education, if taught, must be abstinence based.
West Virginia (27.1 %): only mandatory topic by law is HIV, teaching sex ed is up to teachers
Alabama (27%%) : Does not require se education
Tennessee (26.6%): Abstinence-based sex ed curriculum
9 out of these 10 states voted for Trump in the 2016 election. Let’s get America educated again.
The topic of sex, if not taught properly in an American classroom, should be open in the household and learned at a young age. Teenagers should not have to hide their sexual activities from adults in fear of repercussions. Celebrating purity movements is shameful, and American School Boards should take notes from The Dutch, who clearly do SexEd better.