Sexual health education is an important part of a young person's curriculum—if it is taught in an uncensored, medically accurate, age appropriate manner. Young people who have the facts are better equipped to make responsible decisions about their own sexual behavior. We want to give every teen, and every young adult, this option.
Healthy families are those in which parents and children talk openly and honestly about important life issues, including sex. Unfortunately, there are many children, in different situations, who never receive adequate, or accurate, reproductive health information at home. Since they do not get the information and skills training they need to navigate adolescence and become healthy adults, these young people are at greatest risk for unintended pregnancy, STIs, and HIV.
Serious complications arise when you face the facts: almost 60% of teens have had sex by the time they are seniors in high school1—and that number is not reduced by abstinence-only or “promise program” education. Basing an entire curriculum on the expectation that all individuals should remain celibate until marriage is both shortsighted and unrealistic.
Research shows that if you educate young people about sexuality, including abstinence and contraception, they are more likely to delay sex. We recognize the reality that all young people make decisions—informed or not—about their sexual activity. Tell Them supports their right to uncensored, medically accurate health information through their schools' curricula, instructional materials, campus or public health clinics, and other public and private health venues.
Those who advocate on behalf of abstinence-only education are a loud bunch. Until the rest of us speak up, lawmakers will take the path of least resistance: supporting legislation that aligns them with the “abstinence-only until marriage” moral position. We owe it to our young people to give them the information they need to evaluate these messages in a broader context and to make good, responsible, educated decisions about their own reproductive health.
References 1. South Carolina Department of Education (2011). SC Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2011. Available at: http://www.ed.sc.gov/agency/os/Health-and-Nutrition/School-Health/documents/2011HS_SexualRisk.pdf