Sex is a funny thing. Pretty much everyone does it, everyone’s parents have done it, and people tend to have very, very strong opinions about it … but so few people feel comfortable talking about it.
Obviously, sex is an extremely personal thing. It’s also a routine, normal, necessary, and possibly dangerous thing. As much as humans love sex, there are also a whole lot of consequences that can accompany it: sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, HPV and more, as well as pregnancy.
So with all of the possible results of sex, as well as the fact that almost every single American has sex before turning 44 (99 percent, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a non-partisan think tank that focuses on research about sex and sexual health), it seems vital that everyone be as informed about sex as possible.
Unfortunately, there are many groups across the country that are actively spreading misinformation and blockading Americans’ access to education about sexual health. Only 13 states mandate that sex education be medically accurate, according to Guttmacher.
Yes, you read that correctly. Thirteen. Ohio is not one of them.
What is the value of sex ed that isn’t medically accurate? What is the point? More importantly, why wouldn’t a state want its children to learn how to protect themselves against or avoid the consequences of sex?
And don’t go thinking that this is just a loophole that no one takes advantage of. A congressional report in 2004 found that many lies were being told in school sex ed, and that among these were that touching a woman’s genitals can result in pregnancy.
Not only are lies a gross miscarriage of the duty our educational system owes our country, they’re downright dangerous. The fact is 99 percent of Americans have sex, and 95 percent of Americans have sex before they get married, according to Guttmacher. That’s not just some slutty girls with daddy issues on the outskirts of society. That’s almost everyone.
By lying to our kids and failing to arm them with the tools they need to protect themselves (only 18 states plus Washington, D.C. require that their sex ed programs cover contraception, according to Guttmacher), we leave them open to a whole litany of diseases — not to mention that our teenage birth rate is higher than that of most countries in western Europe.
We need to stop lying to our kids, and we need to stop kidding ourselves and pretending that telling a teenager not to do something is effective. Teenagers are going to have sex. And even if they wait until they’re adults, or until they’re married, they’re still going to need information about contraception and sexual health.
Our teenagers need to know that the only way to completely avoid STIs and pregnancy is not to have sex, but they also need to know how to decide when they’re ready to have sex, so that they can avoid being pressured into something they aren’t ready for. And, should they choose to have sex at some point in their lives (and odds are they will), they need to know that condoms are effective at preventing both pregnancy and most STIs. They also need to know about the wide variety of other forms of contraception available.
Lying to teenagers and sticking our heads in the sand is not effective. Frankly, it’s immoral to deliberately spread lies in order to manipulate people.
Comprehensive, medically accurate sex education is the only way to make sure that our young people lead healthy, fulfilling sex lives, now and in the future.
Why wouldn’t we want that?