Writer’s Block asked:
Sex education in schools is always a topic of discussion. What are your thoughts on the matter — comprehensive sex ed, abstinence only or somewhere in between?
This should shock no one, because anyone who reads this blog should be able to tell I’m a staunch liberal.
I believe in comprehensive sex education. Mostly because, let’s face it people, abstinence only education doesn’t really work. [See articles here, here and here. Three different sources, different levels of website credibility and all say the same thing. My search term was simply “abstinence-only education.”]
To be fair, “comprehensive” can be defined as “abstinence plus” education. This states that abstinence is probably the best way, but acknowledges the fact that teenagers are very likely to be curious, leading to sexual activity so they need to know ways of protecting themselves.
Let’s face it guys, sex education is not really about abortion and pregnancy and that stuff. I mean, yes, teen pregnancy is an issue. As an educator you have a responsibility to dispel pregnancy myths. Part of the reason kids get pregnant is because they have heard so many stories about how to prevent it that simply don’t work, or about how you can’t get pregnant if you do thus-and-such or it’s such a time of the month. They think they’ll be lucky. You have to tell them they won’t be. You have to be open to hearing the myths and to reasonably dispelling them without making the students feel uncomfortable.
Abortion is tricky. I believe it should be talked about in a way that promotes discussion and debate but that doesn’t turn into an all-out fight.
But one of the things that NEEDS to be talked about more is sexually-transmitted diseases. Teenagers believe that they can’t get them but that’s where they’re wrong. Sex education needs to discuss the diseases, their prevalence and their prevention as much as it needs to discuss pregnancy.
The other thing is that the educators themselves need to be educated on exactly how to present the curriculum. I’ve had friends tell me that their educators simply told them that condoms weren’t as effective as they claimed. This is only true if they are used improperly. But instead of discussing that, the educators just assumed a teenager wouldn’t be able to use a condom properly and resorted to scaring them with false statistics.
Not only does your educator need to be educated but they need to be comfortable holding these conversations. If they’re not comfortable, then not only are your students going to be equally as uncomfortable (and unable to approach the educator) but the educator will not be able to teach a curriculum effectively that they are uncomfortable with. They’ll gloss over things in an effort to get through it quickly and avoid it. So you need to make sure the teacher is comfortable with the material or find another teacher who is.
It’s really not that hard to do people!