Sexual Health

Sexual Health

Coming from a diverse high school in a suburb of Chicago, the sexual education I’ve experienced was very informative, unbiased, and respectful to all individual preferences and views of sexual health. Therefore, I was surprised with the various close-minded forms of sexual education that many of my fellow classmates have experienced. I found many of the stories told to be ridiculous and appalling. In my opinion, sexual health education should solely provide necessary information to understand the physical, mental, and emotional effects of sex as well as how to practice sex in a safe and healthy manner. Educators should not force biased believes upon youth, especially when it pertains to their sexual health. Like we mentioned in lecture, these educational tactics (abstinence-only, fear-based, etc.) have only decreased the sexual health among students. Sexual health is important because an unexpected pregnancy or contraction of an STI can not only affect an individual’s physical and mental health, but also hinder an individual’s educational and career goals in the long-run. In order to improve sexual health, sexual education needs to be standardized so everyone receives the same comprehensive education. How should we better educate our youth about sexual health? Why has research shown that biased health educations decrease the sexual health of students?

15 thoughts on “Sexual Health

  1. I, like Alyssa, had a solid sexual education program at my high school and was intrigued to hear some of the comments from my classmates during lecture regarding their unique experiences. I could not agree more in that sexual education needs to be standardized so everyone receives the same comprehensive education. This means every school and every student deserves the same education regarding sexual health, regardless of the type of institution (private, public, Catholic, etc.).

    In my opinion, better educating the youth about sexual health starts with parents, not school. Yes, school has a place teaching students about sexual health and reproduction, but only to a certain extent. The stigma surrounding parents discussing sex with their children is something that needs to change. Parents must understand that a few awkward conversations are far better than an unexpected pregnancy or an STI. I am fortunate enough to have great parents in which I did not have to sole rely on school for sexual education.

    I am somewhat blown-away by the issue of unsafe and sexual health issues. I don’t get what is so difficult to understand. I was at a conference in Flint, Michigan for Student Council last year, and one of my friends from Flint Beecher High School said, “If you are going to do it, wrap it.” That was her school’s Sex-Ed motto, and I loved it. They didn’t preach abstinence, and they didn’t push sex. Instead, they offered a simple and safe solution IF students decided to have sex. This is not a new concept, rather, most of us learned about this at a young age. It is so simple to prevent unexpected pregnancies and STIs, so use your heads and remember, if you’re gonna do it, wrap it!

  2. Sexual Health Education is not the same for every individual. Some students have had the privilege of learning enough in order to have a good and safe sex life while others have been drilled in their head that sex is bad and will only cause diseases. This of course is not the way that sex health education should be taught, but should be explained to the youth the truth. The youth should know what changes, feelings, and emotions one will go through growing up. This will prepare the youth to understand their body more. Research has shown that biased health educations decrease the sexual health of students because many students come from different backgrounds in which some of these backgrounds are either religious or is part of a certain belief. The youth should understand that sexual health is not a topic of embarrassment and should not be avoided because it will only be beneficial in the long run.

  3. My small private school in Birmingham, Michigan also had a very good sexual education program. In seventh grade, everyone was required to take a health class where we learned about anatomy of the body and about how pregnancy occurs. This course was very fact-based and gave us middle schoolers a greater knowledge about what sex was. Everyone was required to take a similar course in ninth grade. This course was less about the entire anatomy of humans and more about sex and the effects that come with it. This course was also very fact-based, but it went over topics such as pregnancy, contraceptives, STI’s, and consensual relationships in more detail.

    I was very satisfied with my school’s sexual education program. Because of this, sitting in lecture and hearing about other student’s own experiences with sexual education was a bit of a surprise for me. I was aware that there are many places around the U.S. where sexual education does not go as in-depth as it did at my school, but hearing the horror stories made me feel pretty sad for the people having to have gone through it. I was surprised to hear that fewer people had a good sexual education experience than a bad one. I think there needs to be a standard for sexual education in schools everywhere. I’m not exactly sure how the line would be drawn on what to cover and what not to, but I think a basic overview of how sex works and how to avoid pregnancy and STI’s is absolutely necessary for everyone.

  4. I completely agree with you Alyssa. The goal of a sexual health educator should not be to provide their students with a certain perspective. It should simply be to educate.

    My sexual health education was very much like your’s. My teachers were very unbiased and had the goal of ensuring sexual safety for anyone who wished to partake in sexual activities. As a result, we did not have any teenage pregnancies throughout high school and STIs/STDs were very uncommon. I think this is a great example of how unbiased sexual health education is more successful.

    As for how we can improve sexual education, I think there should be a standard set of unbiased topics that all health teachers should use. This will provide a consistent and quality set of sexual health values that all teenagers will acquire.

  5. I agree with all your statements sexual health education should provide information to further understand the effects of sex and how to practice it in a healthy manner. In my school we were only taught abstinence and all the diseases we can contract by having unprotected sex. This taught us nothing about how to protect ourselves or how to practice sex in a safe manner so the whole lesson was overall ineffective. By teaching abstinence they are not helping the situation but they are adding to problem because we are not being taught what we are supposed to know. If schools would stop being so close minded and taught students about other ways to practice safe sex other than abstinence then maybe students these days would overall be more informed and the number of sexual diseases that student contract would reduce.

  6. I also completely agree with you Alyssa. Sexual health education should provide information regardless of what you do with it. Assuming that everyone will practice Abstinence is honestly a silly and flawed idea. Rather, teaching abstinence with safe and healthy sex practices lets students have safe and consensual sex should they choose to practice it. I also feel that members of the LGBTQ community miss out on a lot of information for sex with a same-sex partner. This should be addressed for those who choose to do it. My question for fellow bloggers: do you see Abstinence-only sex education changing anytime soon? If not, how can we bring about this change?

  7. One of the most important aspects of sexual education is openness between parent and child. While I do consider cultural and religious normalcies, it is important for such crucial dialogue to be present and frequent so that children know what to expect. In a broader sense, schools should be intent on reinforcing what healthy relationships and courteous interaction look like from the earliest years of a child’s education. This reinforcement can temper the urges to conform to societal pressures or to rush into unhealthy relationships. Having a strong foundation before a child reaches puberty and the teen years can ensure safer and healthier communities.

  8. I agree with you, Alyssa, that sexual health education should be unbiased and solely educational. However, this is difficult to enforce in schools like mine, which are not federally funded. I went to a catholic high school and elementary school. Although I understand why my school strictly taught abstinence because of the catholic faith, I do believe that offering a sexual health education that teaches the necessary basics for safe sex would be a good idea for schools like mine to offer as an alternative.

  9. Sexual health education is very important. I came from a school where there was not good education. I think even once a good plan is implemented, it is important for it to be unbiased. Moreover, it is important to EDUCATE people versus lead them one way or another. This means explain all aspects. Being educated in multiple ways can also increase the odds of people being more open minded.

  10. I agree with what you are saying. I was very surprised when people would talk about their sexual education and have such interesting stories. They were just shocking stories, to say the least. All of the stories almost made me think they were made up. I was just so surprised. However, I come from a very liberal school district/system (Ann Arbor Public Schools) and have benefitted from unbiased, objective sexual education. Sex ed should just play an objective stance in our education. However, there will always be politics involved (like everything else nowadays).

    We need to educate our youth with research-supported facts and make sure that is the only thing being taught. Education gets cloudy when you bring in ideological teachings. Research has shown that biased health education decreases the sexual health of students because the students are simply not being taught the things they need in order to be prepared in the real world. They don’t have the tools to protect themselves and their potential partners.

  11. I agree with you that education on sexual health should be objective with only the purpose to inform people. In this way, people are more equipped to make smart decisions regarding sexual health. Other methods, such as abstinence-only, have shown to be ineffective because false information is distributed and serve to misguide people receiving sexual health education.

    Honestly, I was surprised by all of the various forms of sexual education that HSSPers have received because I was never exposed to sexual health education. I had one required health class in high school, and sexual health was a short subunit of it. In elementary and middle school, due to the lack of sexual health education, I never paid attention to sexual interactions between people.

  12. Sexual health decreases because students are left to figure out sexual health on their own. This is a problem because many teenagers (including myself) was forced to turn to the internet and friends who have experienced sexual activity first hand in order to gain information. This is a problem because much of this important information is left unknown, or the wrong information is conveyed. When the wrong information is conveyed the proper way to prevent pregnancy and STI’s is unknown. A point I also really liked that some of my fellow classmates were taught was consent. I had never heard of consent being taught in a sexual health seminar or class. This is EXTREMELY important. The definition of sex should include consent as sex that is not consensual is rape. I agree sexual health should be taught in an unbiased way. It should also be under the control of the federal government. If it is up to the states to decide more conservative areas may teach sexual health as an “abstinence only” issue instead where the more liberal areas may teach sexual health as more of an open and understanding lesson in the ways teenagers can be safe while engaging in sexual activity.

  13. This is so well written Alyssa! I, myself, have received a very informative, unbiased sexual-education class as well, but I didn’t get it in my high school. I got it from Northwestern University for a week-long program. I learned about sexual transmitted diseases, and we had to make a presentation in front of our own colleagues and mentors. Then, we learned about safe-sex methods, about the different contraceptives that exists, and how to place condoms on a penis dummy. We also had the chance to talk to real life HIV/AIDS patients and were able to ask questions in how they live their life with it now. I was lucky enough to be informed just my junior year of high school. My own advice is as we are well-informed students now. We should plant the seed in our own family and community. If our own parents do not feel good about talking to us about it, we should inform our own siblings the way we were by educating them ourselves or sign them up in sexual education classes once they feel they are ready.

  14. I agree with all of your points you made about how sexual health education should be standardized in order to understand the physical, mental, and emotional effects of sex, in addition to learning about safe-sex practices.

    Back in high school (California), we did not necessarily have a sexual education program per say, but rather discussed safe-sex practice, birth control methods, and consensual relationships maybe twice throughout the four years. Yet the information we received regarding sexual education was unbiased, respectful, and did not use any of the fear-tactics we saw in class.

    It’s important to educate students about sexual health and to allow them to be more open-minded about the topic, rather than forcing them to act in a certain way. Especially with teenagers, often times they will want to experience things on their own and rebel against what they are told to do/asked of.

  15. It is very difficult for me to go back and remember what was talked about during my sexual health education during 9th grade health class, but I think that shows that it wasn’t very influential. I don’t even think we really talked about “sex” in my health class. More about just the reproductive system, and STD’s. Abstinence only sex education is proven to be unproductive. I think sex education needs to stress SAFE sex to minimize pregnancy, STD’s, etc, because people aren’t going to just stop having sex. The educators have their own opinions that is sometimes relayed onto the peers, and also most schools are required by the government to teach abstinence only sex education. In addition, I think access to contraceptives like birth control should be easier. Thanks to the ACA, birth control and other reproductive health related things are covered by insurance… probably won’t be soon though.

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