This is a collaboration by Alleson Estar, Joseph Bowling, Ky Haney, and Jorah Heitz.
*Names have been changed for protection.
“Let’s talk about sex, baby, let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about sex.”
But seriously. Let’s talk about sex. More specifically, sexual education.
With all the sex scenes depicting sex in a false light, most teenagers are either entirely oblivious about sex or get their facts from peers; facts that could be completely inaccurate. When they do have sex for the first time, they could think that doubling up on condoms is a great way to further reduce chances of pregnancy, or a gay couple might think that since they’re gay they don’t need the protection.
A potential source of this misinformation could be a school’s sexual education program. Students can be completely clueless about sex, even after finishing the program. Senior Sydney Forler describes the experience as not covering real life situations, and while abstinence can be beneficial, it should be taught alongside other things. Her level of preparation is nonexistent. “I’m completely uncomfortable with that kind of thing, and I don’t feel like it was taught at all,” she said.
Junior Jackson Konty echoes that sentiment. “I feel like it’s really base level and that they could do a lot more, that they could explore more dimensions and focus less on abstinence and more on safety.”
However, a number of other students feel that an abstinence focused approach is the most effective method of sexual education.
“It makes sense,” said senior Lucas Hertle, “because they’re trying to prevent venereal diseases.” He said that abstinence was highly emphasized and that he has no problem with it.
Junior Adam* also agrees with the abstinence-focused curriculum. “I think it’s a fairly good idea to teach, considering how stupid some teenagers can be and make very rash decisions.”
In order to further stress the importance of the subject, abstinence-based group Choices For Women sends representatives to FC during the sexual education unit. Health teacher Juli Hutson said that some students like the representatives coming in and talking to them about abstinence. Others feel they are trying to shove their ideology down their throats. No matter what though, Hutson stated that the atmosphere is still respectful.
However, the atmosphere may only remain respectful due to the awkwardness of the setting.
Hertle said that although the teaching wasn’t intrusive and he was not personally uncomfortable with the lessons, it was clear that it was extremely awkward for some.
Adam* said that many students giggled at the subject of sex, even if the instructor was comfortable teaching it. If the material wasn’t already present, students felt uncomfortable bringing it up; such was the case with freshman Jenna*.
Jenna* said that she was uncomfortable asking questions, especially ones regarding LGBT sexual issues. Many students agree that sexual education is far too heteronormative.
Senior Alyssa Davis said she believes it is unfair to LGBT students, as only “straight sex” is taught. “So many more people are coming out now that it’s more accepted, so many more people are going to be more comfortable doing things with their same-sex partner.” She said that due to the lack of LGBT sexual education, more LGBT students will end up with sexually transmitted infections (STI). “It’s not fair,” she said.
Sophomore Grace Magnuson felt other forms of sexual intercourse should be talked about because straight people can still contract STDs through anal or oral sex.
Due to bisexuals being more likely to contract STIs, they are also more likely to transmit them to the heterosexual community, stated the Center for Disease Control. Men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections. This exposes a problem with the lack of general information about sexually transmitted infections and methods of prevention, especially in concern to the LGBT community.
On the topic of STIs, some students, such as junior Hannah Nunn, felt that sexual education has done them a favor. She said it has scared her on the subject of STIs. Other ways it can help is further affirming some students’ religious beliefs.
Hutson said “Some kids like it because it backs up what they believe.”
Junior Katie Hopkins said she believes abstinence is by no means a bad thing, but it’s simply not realistic. She said that it would be better to expand what they teach in sexual education.
However, there is a limitation in Indiana legislature concerning sexual education. Indiana statute 8.2.9 states that educators must “describe how some health risk behaviors can influence the likelihood of engaging in unhealthy behaviors,” according to the Department of Education for Indiana. Of the list of unhealthy behaviors, sexual activity is ranked number two. They are therefore required to teach how sexual activity is an unhealthy behavior. Students have mixed emotions about this law.
Indiana statute 8.2.9 is not the only law concerning sexual education. Of all fifty states, only twenty are required to teach medically accurate information. Of those twenty states, the criteria for medically accurate varies. Indiana has no such laws, meaning that the information you gain could be unreliable, states the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
The NSCL also discusses the option of broadening what is taught in sexual education. A 2014 study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, states that the improvement of sexual education lowers the rate of teen pregnancy exponentially.
The bottom line is that while some students are comfortable with how sexual education is taught right now, other students, such as sophomore Sophie Lynch, feel the school can do better. “Teach without limitations,” Lynch said.