According to a recent city-wide standardized test, students in Washington D.C. are suffering from a serious lack of comprehensive sexual health/sexuality education. The test found that high school students, though fairly aware of the basics of anatomy and safe sex, were unable to pinpoint where and how they could access health care and who to talk to. Fifth graders and eighth graders, on the other hand, aren’t nearly “as educated about the human body as they should be.”
So there are a few issues here. The first, of course, is that our country needs to implement more extensive and comprehensive sexual health education programs into public schools. These programs should not only teach about abstinence, STIs, pregnancy, and birth control, but communication, consent, healthy body image, and healthy relationships. The second, more complicated issue, is the question of the standardization of sexual health education.
Many activists argue that the standardization of sex ed is vital. This would mandate that all children receive the same level of sex education at the same time. On the one hand, this creates a healthy environment in which everyone has a safe (hopefully) and concrete space in which to learn a set curriculum. It’s been demonstrated that comprehensive sexual health education directly correlates to lower rates of STIs and unwanted pregnancy.
On the other hand, this kind of standardization would neglect to account for lots of variables in the classroom, such as learning ability, past experience, and religious affiliation, just to name a few. There will always be the parents that opt to remove their children from the classroom during sex ed. In standardizing sexual health education, are we denying parents that right? Can we even allow that to be their right?
Hungry for more brain food? Check out this New York Times article.