Inconsistencies in Sex Education

Authors: Jordyn Ives, Casey Lee, Ankita Singh

October 10, 2022

Compared to other countries, American sex education is notoriously inconsistent and incomprehensive. The curriculum is left for the states to decide, which leads to an inevitable divide between red and blue states. On the other hand, the majority of European countries institute a national curriculum to ensure that education remains consistent. The result is that millions of students are deprived of the sex education they deserve.
In the United States, 29 states mandate sex education (Planned Parenthood). However, this does not reflect the true reality of how sex education is implemented in classrooms because of local control of school districts and individual schools. Due to a lack of a set curriculum, education varies widely from state to state, creating a doubtful national comprehension.
There are 35 states in the US that implement abstinence-only education also referred to as “sexual risk avoidance” (Planned Parenthood). The purpose of the curriculum is to teach students that the expected standard of behavior for teens is abstinence which means abstaining from any form of sexual behavior. The curriculum fails to include material information on contraceptives including condoms and birth control methods which protect against any sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy. This flawed form of education fails to address the wide sphere that is sex education because it focuses on only one method of prevention–abstinence–which does not teach teens how to safely have sexual intercourse and about the numerous resources available to them to ensure that they do.
Only 16 states require teachings on contraception (Planned Parenthood). Without crucial information available to the youth about different types of contraceptives and how to access them, the US has seen an increasing rate of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases rates. This is more so prominent in states that push abstinence-only, no contraception-based sex education. Needless to say, the number of states that require these mandatory teachings should increase.
In a variety of states, many sex educators are prohibited to discuss, answering questions about, and normalizing LGBTQ+ identities and relationships. This environment further stigmatizes the youth and keeps them from accessing crucial information to keep them physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy and safe. It also perpetuates the belief that heterosexuality is the default, and leads LGBTQ+ teens that they do not need to use protection when having sex.
As mentioned, sex education policies and laws are set at the state level, and this creates a heavy environment of uncertainty. Politicians can follow their own personal agenda to limit proper education and health access, leading to a lack of resources such as contraception, and guidance from organizations such as Planned Parenthood, etc. On top of that, many states have no sex education at all, creating an even worse environment for residents of those states.
The disparity in sex education is a large issue and primarily affects children living in deeply conservative states. A lack of knowledge on important topics is detrimental to their future well-being and lives, and that is inexcusable.

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