Since I began college I have realized how fortunate I am to have received comprehensive sex education during my time in high school. Many of my peers in college were taught an abstinence only curriculum or even no sex education at all. I find myself much more confident making sexual health choices because I have had access to realistic and unbiased information.
Most students chose to take Health class as a freshman at my high school; however, I avoided taking the course until my senior year. As an eighteen year old about to head off to college I figured there would be little for me to learn in this course. I never imagined how sitting in a room of high school freshmen discussing sexual health topics would open my eyes to exactly how important sex education is. Admittedly, I often found myself giggling at their questions and wondering how on earth they had never been taught the very basics about sex organs and contraception. Over the course of our sexual health unit I began to see these kids, many of them clueless about sex, having very open and healthy discussions about topics that I, the oh-so-wise senior, had previously found taboo. Before this experience I would have told you that four years in high school had taught me everything I needed to know about sex, but that was not the case. The truth is that we, as young people, don’t really talk about it enough. We aren’t as comfortable as we should be holding our friends accountable to safe sex, discussing our beliefs with sexual partners, and expressing the emotional and physical consequences of sex. I believe that having those candid classroom discussions will help students to one day have a healthy relationship with their sexuality. Dismissing the issue of sex education only perpetuates the social stigma that young people perceive about sex. So many young people are too ashamed or embarrassed to discuss their sex lives and sexuality and ask the questions they are wondering in their head. The truth is that there is no way to avoid sex. Despite your personal beliefs, at some point in our lives we will all have to address the issue. So why do so many high schools avoid it? This is the question we should be asking ourselves.
Sex education does not have to offend anyone’s personal beliefs. If a student is dedicated to abstinence then why would learning about birth control and STI’s change their opinion? If you ask me, that information can be pretty complicated and scary. It’s not exactly an invitation to have sex. The idea that sex education is somehow political baffles me. What we discussed in health class was purely science. It’s the human body, how it works, and how to keep it safe.
Everyone who had sex education in school has got that hilarious story about an awkward moment when they had to put a condom on a banana or say the word ‘vagina’ in front of the entire class. The truth is that yes, it can be awkward. At the end of the day, young people will make all sorts of decisions about when and who to have sex with. It’s only fair that we have access to the information necessary to keep ourselves and those that we care about safe. By having this information we can make changes to keep sex from causing so many tragedies for our generation.