February 21, Tell Them’s series of statewide forums continued with a panel discussion in Columbia, with the focus on the problems educators face when trying to teach sex ed. It was hosted at the wonderful Tapp’s Arts Center in downtown Columbia, and distinguished guests from many other organizations that are concerned with issues related to sex ed were in attendance.
Hannah Costanzo is a freshman studying at the University of South Carolina. She has lived in South Carolina her entire life.
The focus of the evening was the informative panel discussion, which was hosted by Dr. Heather Brandt. The panelists were Forrest Alton, CEO of the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy; Tameika Isaac Devine, a member of the Columbia City Council; and Baron Holmes, who has been involved with the South Carolina state government in various capacities for many years.
The conversation was concentrated on the fact that the teachers who teach sex ed are not adequately trained to teach the subject. There is no legal requirement requiring health educators to be certified to teach sex ed, so many students are taught by PE teachers or science teachers, or even the school nurse. No higher education institution in South Carolina offers a certification in health education, which makes it difficult for teachers who want to be trained to obtain that high-quality training. As Baron Holmes mentioned, many school districts in the state are too small to have the staff to provide the in-house professional development they need.
Speaking as a mother, Tameika Isaac Devine mentioned the anxiety she has about what to say to her daughters when they ask those tricky questions. She is not a trained health education professional, and she said that she hopes that they will learn this information at school, while many of the teachers she has talked to hope that this information will be taught at home. If the teachers do not have the skills and training to be able to feel comfortable with the material in the classroom, then the student’s knowledge of the subject will suffer. And, as Forrest Alton said, the overall goal of sex education is to help young people make good choices. Knowledge is power, so our students should have the best information possible.
What can you do to help?
• Tell your legislator that you care about comprehensive Sex Ed reform (and that they should too) through our Action Alerts!
• Become a member of the Tell Them network and sign our Bill of Rights!
• Like and follow Tell Them on Facebook and Twitter!
Watch the Columbia Educator’s Forum on YouTube here.