Sienna T. California

Why Our Sex Ed Isn't Working

We need to learn about being safe and healthy not only with sexual activity but with relationships, gender identity, and sexual orientation in a positive environment.

Dear future president,

I strongly suggest you implement more comprehensive sexual education for youth in schools. Students aren’t learning what they need to be safe and are in danger of getting unwanted STDs, pregnancies, and abortions. They need to learn about being safe and healthy not only with sexual activity but with relationships, gender identity, and sexual orientation in a positive environment. We need to change the way sexual education programs are taught.

Many politicians prefer abstinence-only programs over comprehensive sex ed. These programs teach teens to wait until marriage and not use birth control. While everyone has a right to their own beliefs, these abstinence-only programs are not working. Future of Sex Ed reports that, 11 out of 13 of the abstinence-only programs curricula are distorted. They distort information such as birth control effectiveness, abortion risks, don’t discuss real science, present gender stereotypes as facts, and contain a lot of wrong information. Some politicians are okay with this because they believe it will delay teens from sexual activity until marriage but, statistics show that students in abstinence only programs are just as likely to have sexual activity and even teen pregnancies. In fact, according to Future of Sex Ed, teens who received comprehensive sex education were 50 percent less likely to experience pregnancy than those who received abstinence-only education. With these statistics it’s very obvious these programs are not making a big enough impact and parents agree. An Advocate of Youth study suggests, only 15% of parents in America want abstinence only programs in schools and yet we’re still funding these programs. The scariest part? The same source says the federal government spends $135 per year on sexual education programs, abstinence-only programs get $100 million of that, whereas comprehensive sex ed programs get only $35 million. The programs that are actually working aren’t getting funded. The funding is based off of personal belief and not scientific fact. You need to fund the programs that are working and fix the ones that aren’t

In my own experience, and many of my peers agree, I’ve found our sexual education needs to be more inclusive of LGBT students and address gender identity and sexual orientation. As of now both abstinence-only and comprehensive sex ed focuses primarily on heterosexual relationships and look down on LGBT relationships. American Progress found that of the small percentage of students that learn about LGBT related topics in sex ed, only 4 percent of LGBT youth reported they had a positive discussion on their sexual orientations in their health class. We need to educate our LGBT youth about safe sex and relationships in a positive environment. The same source quoted a female senior in high school who stated, “Because my school’s health program ignores the gay students, I have been pretty clueless about safe sex. I had to find information on my own on the internet because non-straight students are ignored.” These students aren’t getting the information they need to have safe sex and healthy relationships. Don’t believe it? According to American Progress, young women in high school who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are more likely to contract an STI, to become pregnant, and to be in an abusive relationship than those who identify as heterosexual or questioning. Also from that source, among transgender people, HIV prevalence rates are more than four times the national average. We need to educate all of our youth no matter their sexual orientation so that they can be safe and healthy.

As you can see we need to fix all sexual education in order to have safe and healthy teenagers in America. We aren’t learning what we need and are therefore in danger of getting unwanted STDs, pregnancies, and/or abortions. I suggest that you establish base requirements that all programs must use, no matter whether they’re abstinence-only or comprehensive sex ed. These requirements should include birth control, all sexual activity including LGBT, gender identity, sexual orientation, and healthy relationships in a positive light. We need to learn not only about ourselves in these programs, but about how to be safe by getting all the education we can on these matters. I want a future where all sexual orientations, birth control, relationships, and sexual activity are talked about openly and in a positive environment. 

New Technology High School

American Studies

New Tech High's Junior class. This is a team taught US History and Literature class.

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