As a sex educator, you can probably cite facts about the state of the US’ sexual health without thinking twice. For example, you know that:
- Half of all births are unplanned.
- Adolescents receive half of the new STI diagnoses each year despite the fact that they only make up a quarter of the population.
- It is estimated that one in four women and one in ten men hve experienced unwanted sexual contact during their lifetime.
- LGBTQIA individuals experience higher rates of harassment, bullying, homelessness, and mental health issues.
These statistics serve as motivation to continue advocating for comprehensive sex education throughout the lifespan. They also identify the unmet needs that such programs address. As familiar as you are with the above statistics you probably also know that comprehensive sex education can have the following impacts:
- Delay sexual debut.
- Reduce the frequency of sexual activity.
- Reduce the number of sexual partners.
- Increase use of various contraceptive methods.
In other words, comprehensive sex education programs reduce sexual risk taking. This, in turn, helps decrease the rates of unintended pregnancies and STIs. This is not news. In fact, part of the motivation to bring sex education into schools was research showing that soldiers would have been better off had they learned about venereal disease in school.
Evidence-based comprehensive programs also go beyond traditional sexual health topics like STIs, puberty, reproduction, and contraception. As a result they have the potential to make much broader impacts. For example, the prevalence of eating disorders has been on the rise over the last several decades and they have a disproportionately high mortality rate.Comprehensive sex education programs help address this need by covering topics such as body image, beauty standards, and gender roles.
If these reasons were not enough, consider this: health education programs may also be linked to improved academic performance.
The US suffers from a general lack of information about and comfort with sex. Any sex educator can tell you a time that they received a question about basic facts. While infuriating, sex education in schools addresses this lack of knowledge while promoting sexual and overall health.
Sex Education in the US is Screwing Our Kids