OPINION: Sex Education is a Necessity

Rian Cameron, OwlFeed Opinion Editor

American school systems progress with American values, and they have come a long way. Then only constant when it comes to social standards is change. 

However, progress has lagged behind in some schools such as Agua Fria. Sex is a much less stigmatized topic nowadays, and that modern outlook should be reflected at Agua Fria by lifting the burden of abstinence-only education and replacing it with something more effective. 

Abstinence-only education, which is currently being taught at Agua Fria, is employed to lessen the risks of sex among students by discouraging its practice in any form except within the bounds of marriage. And while it is true that abstinence does most effectively prevent STDs and teen pregnancy, pushing its agenda alone has proven to have the highest risks in both. 

When it comes to sexual health education, the goal remains the same as abstinence-only, except it relies on far more realistic methods. Studies show, time and time again, that abstinence-only education succeeds in little more than leaving adolescents to their own (uninformed) devices, which has fated consequences. 

Photo credit: flickr/Rob Allen

The fact is, students do not base their morals on what their health teacher says in class. In fact, when sex isn’t addressed in its full-effect, it may cause students to turn to other methods of learning. “Abstinence-only education only makes things worse because then kids want to experiment and then they end up pregnant and with STDs,” said Agua Fria senior, Darian Hodges. 

It is also important to note that sexual health education doesn’t encourage promiscuity. Abstinence can still be stressed within the curriculum. Sexual health ed is better characterized as a failsafe for the inevitable outcome that some teens will have sex.  

This idea, unfortunately, is also a part of the problem. “It is controversial because people are uncomfortable thinking about their children having sex and don’t want to acknowledge it,” AF senior Jake Swartwood said.

Concerned parents may argue that sex education is a parental duty alone. I agree to an extent. Parents should educate their kids about sex, but there is no guarantee that they will. If anything, it should be left to parents to advise their children on the morality of sex as they see fit, but they cannot be relied on to get into the nitty-gritty details of it.

“Sex is a part of life,” Swartwood said. “It happens to everyone so why not teach kids the safe way to have sex and teach them about diseases so they aren’t afraid to go in and get checked out?” 

School serves to prepare students for their independent lives. This is a reason to teach many essential, even if uncomfortable, topics for the overall well-being of students. To parents, I caution that kids are unpredictable and incredibly independent. This means that the best chance they have of keeping their kids abstinent is through parenting. 

What is taught in school is not a bailout for parents who don’t want to have the tough conversations about the subjective morality attached. It is, however, a safety net for those without parents willing to educate them enough for their own safety. 

Afterall, this is school, not church.