In this uncertain political climate in which the rights of women, immigrants, and people of color are being reevaluated and suppressed by the current presidential administration, it has become achingly apparent that the security of fundamental human rights is needed in the American world. A proper education, inclusive of medically accurate and non-religiously tainted sex education, is one of the basic rights that has yet to be secured amongst all states. It is a right that should transcend all defining characteristics like geographical location, socioeconomic status, religion, or political affiliation; but seemingly has yet to occur on a federal level.
In fact, as of now, the number of state territories within the United States that mandate and require sex education within the public school system is less than half. The curriculum largely varies within these states, failing to represent a universal system that covers all necessary subject matter and adequately addresses complexities deeply rooted in the American culture. Non-mandated educational facilities have the option to teach the subject voluntarily, without having to adhere to medically accurate information, cover the topic of contraceptives, or acknowledge differing forms of sexuality outside of heteronormativity.
I can attest to this as a former southern middle school student from the Bible Belt who experienced a one day preaching session of abstinence-only “education,” in which the faults and failure rates of contraceptive methods were stated with righteousness. The abstinence-only-until-marriage (A.O.U.M.) method has proven time and time again to be ineffective in its approach, while promoting misinformation and encouraging a patriarchal sex culture entrenched in ideology of universalizing religion.
A sex education program that fails to actually ever talk about sex is a creator of disease-vulnerable, pregnancy-vulnerable youth and an enabler of false information; thereby allowing pornography to be the leading teacher—or rather misleader—of anatomy and biological information regarding sex. As is common knowledge, the concerns associated with the porn industry are vast and alarming, and the last thing we need is for it to be the sole educator on sex for American’s young people. In regression, the United States Congress increased the funding of A.O.U.M. in 2016 to approximately eighty-five million dollars.
Rather than excoriating natural processes and pushing a religious-based dogma of abstaining from intercourse until marriage, a comprehensive sex education program should be federally implemented with urgency. We cannot continue to justify educational depravity through expectation of parental influence. Educational facilities must be responsible for the rudimentary education of the individual, including a fundamental understanding of sexuality, intercourse, consent, contraceptive methods, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, rape, and sexual assault (as explained in a purely educational, age appropriate manner).
As education is empowerment, we can be hopeful to observe a trend in rebellion against the previously mentioned patriarchal sex culture, following a decrease in rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually-related medical conditions. These are not revolutionary ideas by any means, but nevertheless beg repeating as change has yet to occur.
A developed, educated country does not become so by facilitating the misinformation of students across generations.
To act upon the lack of sufficient sex education within the United States, contact your congressional representatives and let them know how important medically accurate and comprehensive sex education is for you, as well as your disagreement with the funding of A.O.U.M.
One can also research and support groups such as the Guttmacher Institute, Advocates for Youth, and Planned Parenthood.