The Parthenon

Want a sexually conscious country? Don’t stop sex ed after high school

Editorial

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Sex education in public schools is a debate that has been happening in America for a number of years now. Comprehensive versus abstinence-only sex education causes a stir among parents, educators and community members, but after students have left the public school system — regardless the type of sex education they received — we expect them to have all of the information they will ever need on the topic.

The lack of knowledge about sex and sexuality among students on college campuses is overwhelming. Colleges provide information on where to access condoms and STI screenings, how to report a sexual assault and support for LGBTQ issues…so why don’t universities include comprehensive sex education as part of their core curriculum requirement?

There are methods of contraception, health risks and reproductive information, which even the best of high school sex education courses couldn’t cover. A high school health teacher isn’t going to talk about dental dams or female condoms. He or she is not going to tell students that lambskin condoms don’t protect against STIs or that a gonorrhea test only works if the doctor knows where to swab.

Comprehensive and complete sex education is still important for college-age students. In fact, it may be even more important for them because one half of all STI cases in the U.S. occur in people ages 18-24 years old.

Are sexually active people in this age group being careless? Reckless? Or are they just uneducated on preventing, testing for and treating STIs?

True, it is partly our culture and attitudes surrounding sex that contribute to the problem of STIs and unintended pregnancies in this country, but it couldn’t hurt to give young people more information.

The same attitudes and misinformation keep young people from seeking birth control, and teen pregnancies account for a large percentage of unplanned pregnancies in the U.S.

In a perfect world, more information would lead to better communication, more positive emotions and young people feeling empowered to make decisions about their bodies and sexuality.

Some may feel that college is too late for this information, but if people haven’t received adequate sex education from their public high school, they aren’t going to learn it magically from enrolling in college. Recent statistics show that 95 percent of Americans are having sex before marriage, and that includes college students.

Sex education isn’t only for those engaging in risky behavior. A college-level sex education course should give students information they can use for a life-time — to protect themselves from disease and unwanted pregnancy, to aid in reproductive health and family planning and to give them the ability to make informed decisions about sex.

Instituting college-level sex education could be the first step in dispelling some of the negative attitudes our culture holds about sex, in turn, reducing the problems we currently have regarding STI contraction and unplanned pregnancy. Perhaps, leading the U.S. to a more sexually progressive nation overall.

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