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Sex education is a subject that has been taught in and out of schools all throughout history. It is a sensitive subject that continues to change over the years. Sex education has always been a very controversial topic in society and this will, sadly always be the case. The very important subject of sexual education is associated with countless opinions and demands for change in both schools and the public in general. Sex education has molded the minds of youth and it continues to shape the way we as a society view sex and all that comes along with it. The history, religious studies, and educational aspects of sexual education programs has had a great impact on our society for better and for worst.
Sex education is a subject that was first introduced all the way back in 1912. The National Education Association began to introduce sexual education training programs. Ultimately, it was the superintend of a Chicago public school that was the first to introduce a sexual education program into school. The subject was first introduced in response to such a high rate of prostitution in the local Chicago area. However, the sexual education program did not last long. After just one year, due to several angry local Catholic leaders, the program was discontinued (The History of Sexual Education, Pardini, 2019). This did not stop sexual education programs for good. Along came the late 1900s and World War I brought resulted in a second wave of sex education. The war caused a very large spike in unprotected sex and STIs. This would eventually lead to a demand for more sexual education programs.
How it works
Throughout the 1920s, between twenty and forty percent of U.S. public schools were teaching some kind of sexual education (Sex Education In The United States, 1835 Through Today, Millstein, 2015). The high rise of sex education in schools was occurring with the hopes of putting an end to STIs. Fast forward about 40 years to the early 1960s and, although it was still very controversial, sex education was being taught in public schools all throughout America. The primary outraged audience was religious groups and some of their biggest uprisings actually, unfortunately, resulted in state and local governments shutting down certain sexual education programs. Fast forward again to the 1980s and the devastating AIDS outbreak occurs. This called for an immediate demand in sexual education programs all across America. This was done for the primary reason to encourage safe sex or abstinence to prevent STIs. Being diagnosed with HIV in that time period was basically a death sentence and people needed to be educated to help prevent this (History of Sex Education in the U.S., 2016, pg. 11). There were certain areas in the U.S. where young people who were being taught abstinence only methods. This method actually resulted in a much higher teen pregnancy rate. This was due to a lack of knowledge about safe sex. However, 10 years later, the 1990s did ended up resulting in record low teen pregnancy rates. Still, the U.S. was and still is amongst the highest countries of teenage pregnancies.
By the time the 1990s had ended, sexual education programs were at an all-time high. America had mad huge amounts of progress. For one, it was mandatory that every state include AIDS education in school. Sexual education programs had grown, and the teen birth rate was as low as it had ever been. During the 2000s it was George W. Bush and Barrack Obama who had the biggest influence on sexual education programs. Bush encourage an abstinence only method in the early 2000s. This method was not very sufficient and once Obama was elected in 2008, he pushed for a K-12 Sex Education Program. By 2009 Obama had managed to eliminate all funds previously devoted to abstinence education and created his own, much more efficient, sexual education program (A History of Sex Education in the United States Since 1900, Huber and Firmin, pf 42, 2014).
Nowadays, in 2019, sex education programs in schools vary across America. It is now mandatory for every school to have some sort of sexual education program. A lot of these programs are efficient and effective but, unfortunately, there are several areas across the U.S. that have very poor sexual education programs. America is now notoriously known for having a poor sexual education system. Just look at the rise in STIs over the years due to a lack of sexual knowledge. America’s STI rate is currently at an all-time high. The poor sexual education programs that exist throughout the U.S. is easily to blame for this. The poor sex education that young people receive result in a higher amount of STIs, more teen pregnancies, and an all-around lack of sexual knowledge. Although, it is mandatory that every state have some sort of sexual education program in their schools, this does not mean they are efficient. Schools have gotten away with poor sexual education programs and even have been known to teach false information. Many people (both students and adults) believe that there needs to be some kind of change in the way the system handles sexual education in schools. There is currently a rise of STIs amongst teenagers and young adults. Recent statistics say that by the time a person is 25, there is a one in two chance that he or she will have had an STI (American Sexual Health Associate, Statistics, 2016). This could easily be traced back to poor knowledge of STIs which is the result of too many children obtaining information from a flawed sexual education program.
Schools do not give out enough information that is necessary for students to know how to have safe sex. There are some sexual education programs (mostly in middle schools) that just say “wear condom” or “don’t have sex”. This is just setting up children for some future major problems. The lack of information being taught in schools today is what leads to infections being spread and more unwanted pregnancies. Another serious problem with sexual education in school is, the programs are not being acknowledged as much as it should. Most parents are pro sex ed and believe that there should be much better sexual education programs in schools. However, schools put almost all their focus on the typical subjects like math, history, and english. This is not to say these subjects are not important but do educators really believe students will be using calculus in the future more than they will be sexually active. With so much focus on other subjects and not enough on sexual education, young adults can grow up confused and make poor decisions that can very easily ruin their lives at a young age. Whether it is getting pregnant too young, getting someone else pregnant, or getting a very serious STI, teens that lack knowledge of sex are prone to make decisions that will negatively impact their lives.
Religious studies have always been a factor that has conflicted with sexual education programs. Religious groups have always fought about sex and sexual education. Due to certain beliefs, religious groups with often times protest sexual education programs which will result in a lack of sexual knowledge. Some religious groups are so powerful that they have actually forced to put an end to sexual education programs across the country. This is just for the selfish reason of pushing their religious beliefs on to other people. By doing this, they are setting young people up for a lack of sexual knowledge. When religion fights to stop sexual education, it will often times make young men and women insecure and embarrassed of their sexual desires that are completely natural (New Catholic World, Haughton and Rosemary p.12). By bashing sex and sexual education programs, religious activists are just asking for kids to rebel and they will do so without the proper knowledge, which can result in serious consequences from not being safe.
My perspective on sexual education programs did not change at all throughout my research. I was well aware that there are mediocre sex ed programs in schools and the public does not acknowledge it enough either. I took the classes and they were just as bad, if not worst as they are today. Young adults are shielded from sex because so much of the public sees it as some sort of crime when, in reality, it is a totally natural thing that is done by everyone. For schools to not teach students and for the public to shield young adults from sexual education programs is not only irresponsible but dangerous as well. Lack of sexual education is what has been causing unwanted pregnancies, STIs, and more for over 80 years. Its simple, sex is natural, and it must be taught and done safely. For anything or anyone to get in the way of this is heinous.
In conclusion, sex needs to be talked about, taught, and done safely. It is unacceptable for any school, state, or society to have anything less than a perfect and well taught sexual education program. This is not to say that every sexual education program is flawed. There are several states that deal with sexual education perfectly. However, it is not acceptable for a single are in America to have a flawed sexual education system. It is our human nature to have sex, both for reproduction and pleasure. That being said, it is only right that we know as much about sex as possible so it can be done safely.
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