Let's talk about sex. Not with each other (well, unless you
want to). Rather, let's talk about sex education and how it should be dealt with
Conclusion: it SHOULD be dealt with in schools and covered in a
We teach our middle school and high school kids about trigonometry (which, odds
are, they won't use). We teach our kids about photosynthesis (although, odds are, they won't go into the field of botany). We teach our kids about the War of
1812 (but, odds are, they won't use that knowledge ever again unless they're
playing Trivial Pursuit). But schools don't, as a rule, teach our kids about sex.
Odds are very good, nearly 100 percent, that students will, indeed, have sex.
Sex is not a trivial matter. It could accidentally lead to
life (there were 273,105 teen moms in 2013). Or could accidentally lead to illness
or death (there are approximately 50,000 new HIV infections per year). Trig and history are not (usually)
matters of life and death— but sex certainly is.
While many see this as a parental task, not all parents are up tackling the topic with their spawn. Therefore, sex education should be covered in a comprehensive way in America's
Some states already, totally, get this
California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a law mandating that comprehensive sex education be required
in schools across the state to compliment the previously required curriculum on
HIV/AIDS prevention and basic sex education as part of the middle and high
In the measure the governor signed, sex education topics include abstinence, a range of contraceptives, sexually transmitted infections and sexual identity, all of which will
be covered at least once in middle school and once again in high school. The education plan will also have "an objective discussion of all legally available pregnancy
outcomes, including, but not limited to, parenting, adoption and abortion."
"Our schools are a critical environment for providing young
people with the knowledge and skills that they will need to protect their
sexual health," said the bill's author, Assemblywoman Shirley
Weber. "This is about empowering all young men and women—whatever their orientation or gender—to make the healthiest decisions
This broader look at sex education will "affirmatively
recognize that people have different sexual orientations and, when discussing
or providing examples of relationships and couples, shall be inclusive of
While parents can opt their children out by keeping their children home on the days during which sexual health is covered, schools are not permitted to opt out.
As it should be.
California's health-first, comprehensive requirement is model for the rest of the country and not just for progressive states. Currently only "22 states and the District of Columbia require
public schools teach sex education (20 of which mandate sex education and HIV education)" and only "19 states
require that if provided, sex education must be medically, factually or
While sex talk may be awkward for students, parents and teachers ,
sex is a fact of life. One of the biggest, "that's how it all starts" facts of
life. We need to give kids not just the basics, but also an understanding of other important aspects of sexual health. We need to have open, facts-based discussions, which will arm all children to,
hopefully, treat others with respect and also to respect their own bodies and to make safe choices.