Students deserve better sex education in school.
It is a known fact that many sex education programs in US high schools are lacking. They are not only lacking in abundance, but in credibility and inclusivity as well.
As young adults, in a time where many people are having their first sexual experiences, it is extremely important to offer information about sex. No one is just born knowing everything about safe, healthy and consensual sex. But for some reason we are expected to inherently know these things.
There are two specific things that stand out about my sex education in high school. The first is the video we had to watch of a woman giving birth. I’m still not sure what, if any, knowledge I took from that unpleasant experience. The second thing I remember is my teacher showing us how to put a condom on a banana. Shockingly enough, that skill does not pertain to everyone.
I have no problem with either of the things that I most vividly remember from high school sex education. However, I do have a problem with everything that was left out. It is particularly pressing for the LGBTQ+ community. “Sex Education” is strictly heterosexual sex education. We all know that gay people exist and that they are in every single high school.
So why are schools ignoring them in such a way that contributes to the already lacking resources available for LGBTQ+ youth?
Schools also need to start a serious conversation about consent. Because there is such a lack of education around healthy, consensual sex for young people, many are getting information on what sex is supposed to look like from the media. This is dangerous because media depicts sex in a very unrealistic way and upholds images that promote male sexual aggressiveness.
For example, very few media portrayals of sexual encounters show men asking for consent. However, most of these do show the man as being the one who pursues the woman sexually. This is a problem when we know that the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men. It is appalling that schools are ignoring the obvious problem of sexual violence that is gender based.
For members of the LGBTQ+ community, education on healthy and consensual sex is imperative for even more reasons. There are some resources out there for victims of sexual assault, but these resources are largely geared towards heterosexual people. It becomes about more than just reporting for LGBTQ+ identified people.
Coming forward with a sexual assault might mean outing oneself and facing possible shame and rejection from family and friends. More inclusive education in schools would provide a basis for a more inclusive society. This would make it safer for people of all identities to report their sexual assaults.
We can’t keep blaming youth for what is happening to them when the system we are brought up in sets us up to fail. Instead of condemning girls who get pregnant we should be working towards a system that allows them access to education and resources to prevent it.
Sex education has the potential to be an amazing thing for students to learn from. But keeping young people in the dark about facts regarding safe sex, healthy sex and consent is not the answer.
Michaela is a second year ethnic studies student. Letters can be sent to email@example.com.