Why Do We Need Comprehensive Sex Ed Now?
I always thought the sex ed scene in mean girls was so dramatic. Coach Carr said, "Don't have sex. Because you will get pregnant and die". This was funny.
Credit: Seventeen Magazine https://www.seventeen.com/health/sex-health/news/a39732/your-schools-sex-ed-is-even-worse-than-you-thought/
That's so (not) fetch
My first memorable sex ed was in 7th grade. I had already had the talk prior, but it was very surface level. In 7th grade, my science teacher told us that we should not even kiss because that could lead to “other things.” She suggested holding hands as a way of showing affection — nothing more. Honestly, I felt I would get pregnant and die if I had sex. This was not funny.
My story is not uncommon. Sex education is full of stigma, preaching abstinence. Do you know what stigma creates? Unsafe sex practices.
The issue is that the idea of abstinence is very religious – especially Christian-focused. This notion completely contradicts the separation of church and state.
Most people I know learned about sex from social media and the internet, but I am not sure how healthy that is. Romanticizing toxic relationships from movies and tv shows is bound to translate into real-life unhealthy relationships.
Roe V. Wade and Other Abortion Barriers
With issues such as Roe v. Wade getting overturned, it is clear that GOP lawmakers are more reactive than proactive. Rather than banning abortions and creating more barriers, investing in comprehensive sex education would be wise.
In Florida, HB 5: Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality, the abortion ban, passed recently in the Florida 2022 Florida legislative session, creates more barriers for marginalized communities in their access to abortions. The bill created a 15-week ban and offered no exceptions for rape or incest. This bill passed before Roe V. Wade was overturned, which is even scarier. The midterms are so important, with Roe V. Wade on the ballot.
States such as Louisiana have legislation, criminalizing birth control such as IUDs. What's next?
Start in Kindergarten
In Sweeden, their sex ed starts in Kindergarten. I know what you are thinking, young children should not be learning about sex, but comprehensive sex ed is so much more than the act of sex. Instead, they ask little kids what they think love is. After all, sex is referred to as making love.
Compared to the United States, teenagers in Sweeden feel more comfortable and less pressured to have sex and wait longer. This comprehensive education allows women to feel like sex is something they do rather than something that happens to them. Our sex ed perpetuates a culture where the guilt falls on the girls who end up feeling like objects in the act. Women should feel empowered, not pressured.
There is a current policy challenge with comprehensive sex ed. Studies have shown a significant correlation between a lack of comprehensive sex ed and high pregnancy and std rates. The demand for this policy comes from many reproductive rights groups such as the National Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, The National Women's Law Center, and National Organization for Women. Many of these groups focus on protecting abortion rights in the current political landscape. The individuals who make these demands may be young people. The issue is this population may not be of voting age. Both these groups and individuals do not provide substantial support for policy related to comprehensive sex ed. Support can come from legislators sponsoring or co-sponsoring a piece of legislation. In the 2022 Florida legislative session, Anna Eskamani proposed a bill, HB 1409: Education in Public Schools Concerning Human Sexuality. This bill died in the Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee. With the bill dying with the political system, we can trace back to how the support and demands could not produce an output through policy. The lack of output for sex ed policy reveals how demand for comprehensive sex ed does not necessarily transform into a political issue from having support from an insignificant portion of society. This issue needs to be one of significance.
Don't Say Gay Bill
HB 1557: Parental Rights in Education, notoriously known as the Don’t Say Gay bill, passed in Florida 2022 legislative session, is the anthesis to comprehensive sex ed. The Don’t Say Gay Bill bans discussions of homosexuality. The GOP claiming woke culture is attempting to push an agenda. However, there should be no difference between a little boy having a crush on a girl versus having a crush on a boy. This bill reveals how rigid heterosexuality and binary ideals are in the fabric of our school systems. Thus, sex ed must be inclusive of more than heterosexuality – yet another way it is currently lacking.
Challenging the state of the current landscape for reproductive rights and justice starts with comprehensive sex education. Sex ed is misconstructed and vilified, but it truly teaches us about healthy love and relationships. Education is power. Sex is about power.