Siena College's Student Newspaper

Opinion

Should Sexual Education be Taught in Schools?

I vaguely remember my experience with sexual education in my high school. Each student was required to have a semester-long health class that regarded issues such as drug use, dietary choices, and genetic diseases that may not be well-spoken about. I thought for sure that this class would also require some sort of sexual education, but to my surprise, it did not. We had one class centered around sexually-transmitted diseases and how to prevent contracting one. Though this was valuable to some, it did not touch on other extremely important lessons when talking about sexual education. Sexual education, especially in the high school setting, is an extremely important subject that should be used to properly educate the youth about the major topics in this area. 

Throughout high school, students go through a lot of mental and physical growth. During this time, increased hormones become a prominent factor. Teenagers are going through one of the fastest growth spurts in their lives, which naturally leads to a big increase in certain hormones. Males start to create testosterone at this time in their lives, which is one of the main sex hormones. The same thing goes for women: estrogen is made to prepare them for situations like sex and pregnancy. These hormones drive each gender to prepare themselves for sexual encounters and because of this, it is important to teach them safe methods to protect themselves during this time of their lives.

One of the main highlights of sexual education is to speak on methods of practicing safe sex, which can lead to decreased cases of teen pregnancy. As summarized by the American Journal of Nursing, states that mandated comprehensive sexual education saw a decreased level of teen pregnancy cases, while states who emphasized an abstinence-focused approach saw much higher cases of teen pregnancy. Many states only mandate their schools to speak on reasons to not have sex in the first place which makes children feel the need to defy the school. However, they don’t know how to do so safely and teen pregnancy can be a result of this. If sexual education was further forced, students wouldn’t feel the need to act upon a possibly rebellious feeling!

Many standard health classes cover the facts about sexually transmitted diseases, but having a sexual education class that discusses them in greater detail can be highly beneficial for students. When I took health class, we learned about STDs for one day. One day’s worth of class lasted about 40 minutes and this is certainly not enough time to talk about such an important subject. Some people may have an STD and not know, so speaking on this issue can promote students to get tested and lead them to be more careful when having sex. 

Some families may not be comfortable with speaking to their children about topics regarding sexual education, which can lead to numerous issues in this area of life. As such, schools need to fill this void and allow for a smooth transition from child to adult life for these students. Parents may not tell their kids the necessary information when speaking about sexual education, such as safe protection practices, birth control, and STD. While they may address the birds and the bees, they may not talk about how to safely do the birds and the bees. When implementing a structured sexual education plan into schools, students will get all of their bases covered when it comes to best sex practices. You may ask yourself: what if a student is not comfortable with taking a sexual education class? The tough part about it is that sex is a human function; if people did not have sex or learn about sex, then none of us would be here today. It is normal to feel a little uncomfortable about learning sexual education—especially if you are involved with a fellow classmate—but having that small period of discomfort is well worth the long-term education of these sexual topics. 

Imagine yourself back in high school again. Specifically, back to the time when you were signing up for next semester’s (or next year’s) scheduled classes. Was sexual education one of your options? It wasn’t one of my options. I feel as though it should be a choice—and possibly a requirement—for everyone in high school. The teenage years are a time of physical and mental growth and are filled with curiosity, so it is important to prepare students in every way for things that might happen in their lives!