America's Current Sex-Ed Curriculum Blows
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Politics and Activism

America's Current Sex-Ed Curriculum Blows

Fun fact: states with abstinence only sex-ed curriculums have the highest rate of teen pregnancies. Isn't that interesting?

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America's Current Sex-Ed Curriculum Blows
Mean Girls

Recently, my little sister has been working on a project about sex education in high schools. She's having everyone take a survey of what they were and weren't taught so she can write a paper and send the results to the San Diego school district as a proposal for reform in the way we go about sex-ed. Reading her questions in the survey, I realized I wasn't taught any of this in sex-ed, and that's messed up. Everything she listed are things that NEED to be taught to high schoolers, heck, even middle schoolers. We have a biased system and we don't teach kids what they really need to know. The fact of the matter is: kids are going to do all of these things. It's not going to be avoided. That's like 99.9% certain. If they're going to experiment anyway, why don't we actually teach them useful things that will actually serve them well in their future safety?

Below I responded to each of my sister's survey questions, since each was very thought-provoking to me.

"I learned about birth control methods other than abstinence."
This is critical. If you just tell kids to abstain from sex, they're not going to listen. Just about everyone has sex, just teaching abstinence does nothing since everyone does it (unless you're a nun or something). I was only taught abstinence. I mean, I was told about the other methods, but they were presented in a derogatory fashion and the bottom line was "the only way you can keep from getting pregnant is abstinence." Heck, I'm almost 18 and I still don't know where to get birth control, or even the different types of birth control. In my opinion, teaching abstinence probably only exacerbates the epidemic of teen pregnancy, not decreases it.

"I was taught my legal rights and safe places I can go for medical care."
This most definitely was never even mentioned in my sex-ed class. I still don't know the answers to this. Uh...I can go to Planned Parenthood, I guess? That's really all I know. What do you do when you get there? I learned the most about teen pregnancy and medical care from the movie Juno. What legal rights are there? Even as an adult this would be nice to learn.

"I learned what STI's/STD's are."
Oh yes, I learned about STD's. Lots of them. Grisly PowerPoints of graphic photos basically screaming, "This is what happens when you have sex!!!" And that's what the teacher said, too.

"I learned how to prevent STI's/STD's."
This is almost laughable. All my teacher said was, "Abstinence is the best way to prevent STD's." ….Oooookay, but what about other than that? Abstinence is such an outdated and unrealistic concept, it's ridiculous that we're basing the whole sex education curriculum around it.

"I learned how to treat STI's/STD's."
This was never mentioned, because of course, we won't be getting STD's, because we won't have sex, so what's the point? I guess you go to the doctor...?

"I feel I was well informed about gender identities."
What the heck??? This was never, ever taught in school. I learned this on my own. Gender identities are important to learn in sex-ed just so kids can figure themselves out and also get to know their partner better if they have a gender identity that deviates from the binary cisgender norm.

"I learned how to spot an irregular/dangerous period and where to go for medical attention."
We talked about periods once, but the only thing I remember learning was that if you live in the same house or are with someone a good majority of your time, your period schedules end up matching up. It's just biology, or something. I don't know. But I do know we did not talk about irregular periods and especially not how to know if it's serious enough to need medical attention. When I was 14, I had my period for 2 straight months, but I didn't say anything because I thought it was normal. Eventually, my stepmom found out and I went on birth control for a month, which did fix the problem, but imagine if no one had noticed? My sister had her period for 8 months straight before she realized she should probably tell someone because that is definitely not normal.

"My class discussed consent and who to talk to for help."
We talked about consent, but we did not talk at all about safe spaces, sexual harassment, reporting harassment, and what even was or wasn't consent. Why? Based on the golden rule: abstinence. Why do we need to know about consent if we're not having sex anyway, right?

"My class discussed safe communication with our partners."
Actually, I did learn this. But in my Intro to Communications class in college. Actually, no, we just talked about sexual harassment. I think I know what this means, but I am really not sure what defines it.

"We discussed open relationships."
I learned this on my own by just being a teenager, but this would be very important to discuss in sex-ed to make students aware of the risks and how they can make sure their partners won't contract an STD that can be passed onto them, etc.

"We learned how to partake in casual sex (hookups) in a safe and consensual way."
Most definitely not. And this is probably one of the biggest things as a teenager. Most sexually active teenagers engage in casual sex at one point or another. It's unavoidable. And learning that just because you said "yes" the first time but weren't comfortable after that would be so so so so helpful for teenagers.

"I feel confident in my knowledge of human anatomy of both sexes."
I'm aware of the human anatomy, but I think it was from taking anatomy and physiology my senior year, not sex-ed. And we never learned about important terms and parts and processes, really.

"I was taught how to respond to peer pressure or pressure from my partner/partners."
Another big nope. Since the assumption is abstinence, your partner isn't going to pressure you into sex!! Wrong. And since kids aren't taught this, they really don't know they have the right to say no and what proper consent looks like.

"I learned how to spot symptoms of a possible STI and where to go for medical attention."
They only showed us gross photos, not anything about symptoms. I feel that's the most important thing to be taught about STI's/STD's. How are you going to know to get treatment if you can't even recognize the symptoms?

"I feel I learned Sex Ed in a safe and nonjudgmental environment."
No. The teachers are biased, and asking questions felt embarrassing. We were shown videos of live abortions to deter us from the idea, something a public school should not be doing since pro-life is a purely religious ideal (and if you want to challenge me on this, name me one reason for being pro-life other than religion), we were given the opportunity to write anonymous questions for the teacher to pull out of a box and answer, but the teacher's reaction to legitimate questions were definitely judgmental, and probably made whoever asked it guilty or embarrassed.

The bottom line is, America has failed in properly teaching sex-ed. You put a condom on a banana and hear that abstinence is your only option. The world is constantly changing, and the way we go about sex-ed is archaic and irrelevant to the 21st century teenager. Today with apps like Tinder, made exclusively for hook-ups, teenagers are putting themselves at great risk without the proper education.

Everyone has sex. You know that, I know that, God knows that.

End the taboo.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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