According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of September 2017, less than 50 percent of states require schools to provide sex education. And only 13 states require that, when provided, “medically accurate” curriculum.
So, basically, in the other 37 states, using a euphemism like “the birds and the bees” can be considered a legitimate and correct way to educate teens on sexual intercourse. Fabulous.
Sarcasm aside, failure to implement anatomically and socially correct forms of sexual education in a classroom can be catastrophic.
A survey by the National Union of Students in 2015 shows that 60 percent of students used porn to find out more about sex, and 40 percent cited porn as helping their understanding about sex. The survey also found that over two-thirds of students sitting in a health class were never taught about sexual consent. Despite a majority of students agreeing that porn sets unrealistic expectations, it is still the number one resource for topics left unaddressed in the classroom.
Classrooms that utilize euphemisms and outdated phrases like “when a man loves a woman …” fail to inform students on the difference between consensual and nonconsensual intercourse. Ambiguity in the way sex education is taught equals ambiguity in real-life scenarios, which begs the question, “Are students taught what ‘no’ really means when it comes to sexual consent?”
The answer, to me at least, is mostly no.
Sure, someone can argue that consent is a clear-cut “yes” or “no,” but if it was universally understood that way, in May 2011, a fraternity at Yale University would not have been banned for five years after parading across campus chanting, “no means yes, yes means anal.”
We can’t continue to turn a blind eye on the fact that sexual education is lacking nationwide. Abstinence-only education that completely rejects other forms of contraception, age of consent and views on human sexuality is outdated. Although some may disagree with me, abstinence should not be taught as the only form of contraception — simply because it isn’t the only one.
No, I’m not implying that every individual will be sexually assaulted, harassed or raped as a result of inadequate sex education. But I’m not saying that possibility doesn’t exist either.
As opposed to creating more misogynistic fraternities, reducing barbaric cases of sexual assault to “20 minutes of action” and a measly three-month sentence, perhaps we should consider widening the scope of our sexual education.
Ramona Park is a senior at Santa Fe High School. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.