Sex Education in America

Somehow Less Realistic Than Pornhub


Jadyn Gelfand, Staff Writer

In eighth grade, when I was first taught how to have healthy sex, I saw a lot of videos of birds going at it. To be fair, that was not my only education; I also saw awkward teen actors pretend to be excited about abstinence, a woman giving birth, and two men holding hands because everyone knows that LGBTQ people do not have sex. 

My experience with American sex education is sadly the norm. This is why the United States must improve federal guidelines for sexual health education and redirect funds to education techniques that work, instead of disproven methods of abstinence instruction.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 43% of high schools and 18% of middle schools teach key CDC topics for sexual health education. This abominable level of sex education causes the United States to be the leader among all developed nations in teenage pregnancy rates.

Additionally, as reported by World Population Review, the United States has the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among developed countries

To fix these problems, the United States must first teach about sexuality in an inclusive and non-homophobic way. In terms of cost, it would be free for our senators to mandate that teachers must teach accurate and needed information on LGBTQ issues in sex education.

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) offers a free LGBTQ inclusive curriculum guide for educators, and Planned Parenthood has several workshops. 

In terms of public opinion, 85 percent of parents are in favor of sexual orientation being part of sex education in high school, and 78 percent support it in middle school. This overwhelming majority shows that there is significant political will for making our classrooms inclusive. 

The United States also must mandate that it be taught with respect and accuracy. Planned Parenthood detailed how, in abstinence-only curricula specifically, students are more likely to be taught that non-traditional families are wrong, discouraging same-sex relationships.

This is outright shameful. It costs the United States government nothing to mandate that teachers abide by non-homophobic teaching, especially with accessible resources from GLSEN and Planned Parenthood. Homophobia and heteronormativity have no place in the classrooms of the United States.

Next, the United States government needs to defund abstinence teaching and divert that money to proven forms of sex education. More than $2 billion in federal taxpayer funding has been spent on abstinence-only programs since 1996. If abstinence education worked, that amount might seem reasonable, but abstinence does not work. Our own government acknowledges this: the CDC disclosed in 2001 that, “[T]here is no evidence that abstinence-only education is effective [at decreasing teenage pregnancies].” 

Even now, the government uses millions of taxpayers’ dollars to fund ineffective sex education. This money should be used instead to promote safe sex and to purchase books that teach safe sex, helping to prevent STDs and teenage pregnancy. Young people ages 15-19 who received comprehensive sex education were 50% less likely to report a pregnancy

Finally, considering that only 17 states require sex education be medically accurate, the United States must write federal law prohibiting false teachings. One remedy is for new sex education regulations to be based on information determined by the CDC. Assuming teachers have access to computers, utilizing the CDC’s website would be a cost-effective way to ensure accurate teachings.

Some people have claimed that religious freedom prohibits the required teaching of sex in schools. For example, Angela Kennedy, the chair of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, stated, “Schools shouldn’t be forced to teach a program that doesn’t ground the expression of sexuality in love and marriage.

However, choosing how sex is taught in schools is not religious freedom, but rather the opposite. Having schools teach a Christian faith-based ideal of sex forces this religious narrative on non-Christian students. Being taught safe sex with accurate science should overrule a parent’s moral wishes.

If we require schools to teach evolution, which many believe goes against the writing of the Bible, then surely we must require safe sex education too. 

At this point in time, your child receives more reliable information on how to have safe sex from Pornhub than they do in the average American classroom. A curriculum that promotes gender roles, heteronormativity, and the laughable delusion of widespread abstinence is unacceptable.

We must raise the bar for this curriculum by redirecting funds to proven models and terminating the puritan styles of sex education.