Comprehensive sex education is proved to work. It acknowledges that since some students will start having sex in high school (or earlier) that they might as well know how to do so safely. The national median of high school students having sex is 34.5 percent. In New York, where students receive progressive sex education the rate is 32 percent, while in Arizona, a state with conservative sex education, 35 per cent of students are sexually active.
Earlier this month, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention released a study showing that the percentage of public schools teaching key topics related to sexual education did not increase in any of the 45 states surveyed. The study didn’t ask why schools were not teaching the topics, just what topics they were teaching. There are 11 recommended sex education categories, ranging from information about HIV/AIDS to the benefits of staying abstinent.
So where are teens turning for their sex ed information? For many it’s the internet. You know, that thing for porn. A survey done by a resident at the University of Western Ontario showed 40 percent of teens thought the internet was a more useful way to get information about sex ed than talking to their parents. The problem is, especially for teenage boys, that there is a lot of overly sexist information (take Tucker Max for instance) that is replacing good sex ed.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. In my hometown of Calgary there’s a new program called WiseGuyz targeted specifically at teenage boys to both teach an updated version of sex ed while also teaching about healthy relationships and non-destructive masculinity. It’s an open forum for teenage boys to talk openly, with the facilitators recognizing that Grade 9 guys “consume a lot of pornography.” I think it’s a fresh approach that should be used an example.
What do you think? How should sexual education be taught in school?
Leah is just waiting on a piece of paper to say she has her Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto. When she’s not working on the Ryerson Review of Journalism she’s baking tasty cupcakes and hunting for a job (hopefully that pays). Follow her @Elleandbee.