Let’s talk about sex

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By: Samira Kassem, Staff Writer

In the era of the ‘#MeToo’ movement we are seeing a huge increase in female empowerment and reevaluation of the nature of sexual relations. I believe that a huge problem facing society today is the way we approach discussion of sexuality and sex. In junior high and high schools, sex is seen as something that is too awkward or forbidden to discuss.

Abstinence-only education is a gross disservice to America’s young people.

Sex is a natural part of the human experience, so treating it as though it is a forbidden act, and even subject for discussion, is not the way we should be approaching it at all. Studies from the Journal of School Health found that multiple states exhibited that abstinence only programs do not limit sexual activity in young people, and therefore do nothing to stop teen pregnancy or STDs. A study by the Journal of Adolescent Health even found that teen girls who have taken a virginity pledge have higher rates of HPV and accidental pregnancy.

The only way to prevent teen pregnancy is better access to contraception and education, which are the very reproductive rights the Republican Party is trying to inhibit through constant pushes to defund programs such as planned parenthood, and by supporting the continuation of funding for abstinence-only programs in schools.
A very common argument for abstinence only suggests that waiting for marriage ‘reflects American values’. In reality these so-called ‘American values’ are those of the religious white men, and they do not truly reflect the values of the American population as a whole.

Waiting until marriage is a strictly religious characteristic. A religious argument is not enough to justify denying our young people education in order to truly prevent teen pregnancy and STDs. It has been proven time and time again that simply telling students not to have sex does nothing to stop them.

Programs in schools should not encourage students to engage in sexual relations before they are ready. However, they should be showing students how to be safe and warn them of the consequences if they are not. If students are more aware of the risks, it is even possible that they will be more likely to wait until they are truly ready to have sex.

Lawrence Finer of the Guttmacher Institute in New York did a study on adults that were born as far back as the 1940’s. The study revealed that 95% of Americans have premarital sex, and that 75% of Americans have sex before the age of twenty.

The federal government has been funding and encouraging abstinence-only education far too long. Data shows that it never has worked, and it never will. The Center for Disease Control actually shows Rhode Island to have the lowest rate of HIV cases of any state (with population accounted for), and they also happen to be one of the states that requires HIV and contraception education in their programs by law. Mississippi has no sex education mandate and requires any sex education that is taught to be abstinence-only, and they have the highest rate of teen pregnancy of any state.

I believe that if students were more educated on safe sex between the ages of twelve and eighteen, there would be a decrease in STDs and teen pregnancy. This does not necessarily have to mean less people having premarital sex as studies show that to be nearly an impossibility. I also think that education would make society as whole less judgemental. There would be a decrease in ‘slut shaming’ and more of an understanding that engaging in sexual activity is a personal choice.

If we could talk about sex in a more relaxed way at a young age then people would be more prepared when it comes time for them to decide whether or not they are ready. I believe young people should say no because they are not ready, not because they have been scared into believing that premarital sex will give them a one way ticket straight to hell. It is time the federal government stops ignoring the data and using federal funding to encourage states to use programs that are outdated and inefficient.