Sex education | Wikipedia audio article

Sex education is the instruction of issues
relating to human sexuality, including emotional relations and responsibilities, human sexual
anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive
rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence. Sex education that covers all of these aspects
is known as comprehensive sex education. Common avenues for sex education are parents
or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns. Traditionally, adolescents in many cultures
were not given any information on sexual matters, with the discussion of these issues being
considered taboo. Such instruction, as was given, was traditionally
left to a child’s parents, and often this was put off until just before a child’s marriage. The progressive education movement of the
late 19th century, however, led to the introduction of “social hygiene” in North American school
curricula and the advent of school-based sex education. Despite early inroads of school-based sex
education, most of the information on sexual matters in the mid-20th century was obtained
informally from friends and the media, and much of this information was deficient or
of dubious value, especially during the period following puberty, when curiosity about sexual
matters was the most acute. This deficiency was heightened by the increasing
incidence of teenage pregnancies, particularly in Western countries after the 1960s. As part of each country’s efforts to reduce
such pregnancies, programs of sex education were introduced, initially over strong opposition
from parent and religious groups. The outbreak of AIDS has given a new sense
of urgency to sex education. In many African countries, where AIDS is at
epidemic levels (see HIV/AIDS in Africa), sex education is seen by most scientists as
a vital public health strategy. Some international organizations such as Planned
Parenthood consider that broad sex education programs have global benefits, such as controlling
the risk of overpopulation and the advancement of women’s rights (see also reproductive rights). The use of mass media campaigns has sometimes
resulted in high levels of “awareness” coupled with essentially superficial knowledge of
HIV transmission.According to SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council
of the United States, 93% of adults they surveyed support sexuality education in high school
and 84% support it in junior high school. In fact, 88% of parents of junior high school
students and 80% of parents of secondary school students believe that sex education in school
makes it easier for them to talk to their adolescents about sex. Also, 92% of adolescents report that they
want both to talk to their parents about sex and to have comprehensive in-school sex education. Furthermore, a “study, conducted by Mathematica
Policy Research on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that abstinence-only-until-marriage
programs are ineffective.”==
Definitions==Burt defined sex education as the study of
the characteristics of beings: a male and female. Such characteristics make up the person’s
sexuality. Sexuality is an important aspect of the life
of a human being and almost all people, including children, want to know about it. Sex education includes all the educational
measures which – regardless of the particular method used – may center on sex. He further said that sex education stands
for protection, presentation extension, improvement and development of the family based on accepted
ethical ideas.Leepson sees sex education as instruction in various physiological, psychological
and sociological aspects of sexual response and reproduction. Kearney (2008) also defined sex education
as “involving a comprehensive course of action by the school, calculated to bring about the
socially desirable attitudes, practices and personal conduct on the part of children and
adults, that will best protect the individual as a human and the family as a social institution.” Thus, sex education may also be described
as “sexuality education”, which means that it encompasses education about all aspects
of sexuality, including information about family planning, reproduction (fertilization,
conception and development of the embryo and fetus, through to childbirth), plus information
about all aspects of one’s sexuality including: body image, sexual orientation, sexual pleasure,
values, decision making, communication, dating, relationships, sexually transmitted infections
(STIs) and how to avoid them, and birth control methods. Various aspects of sex education are considered
appropriate in school depending on the age of the students or what the children can comprehend
at a particular point in time. Rubin and Kindendall expressed that sex education
is not merely the topics of reproduction and teaching how babies are conceived and born. Instead, it has a far richer scope and goal
of helping children incorporate sex more meaningfully into their present and future life and to
provide them with some basic understanding of virtually every aspect of sex by the time
they reach full maturity.==Evidence==
Evidence shows that a combination of comprehensive sex education and access to birth control
appears to decrease the rates of unintended pregnancies among teenagers. A meta-analysis that compared comprehensive
sex education programs with abstinence-only programs found that abstinence-only programs
did not reduce the likelihood of pregnancy, but rather may have increased it. Numerous studies show that curricula providing
accurate information about condoms and contraception can lead to reductions in the risky behaviors
reported by young people as well as reductions in unintended pregnancies and STIs. Programs that teach only abstinence have not
been shown to be effective.According to UNFPA, “A 2010 review found that ‘gender-focused’
curricula – meaning curricula that integrate gender equality into the learning material
– were substantially more effective in reducing risky behaviors than programmes that did not
consider gender.” Research has also shown that delay in sexual
initiation, use of condoms and practice contraception has been a result of young people adopting
egalitarian attitudes about gender roles. These individuals were also found to be less
likely engaged in violent relationships and have a lower rate of STIs including HIV and
unintended pregnancy.By emphasizing rights and gender issues, these programs help reduce
gender-based violence and bullying, promote safe schools, empower young people to advocate
for their own rights, and advance gender equality.”Few sexual health interventions are designed with
input from adolescents. Adolescents have suggested that sex education
should be more positive with less emphasis on anatomy and scare tactics; it should focus
on negotiation skills in sexual relationships and communication; and details of sexual health
clinics should be advertised in areas that adolescents frequent (for example, school
toilets, shopping centres).”Also, a U.S. review concludes that “the overwhelming weight of
evidence shows that sex education that discusses contraception does not increase sexual activity”. The 2007 study found that “No comprehensive
program hastened the initiation of sex or increased the frequency of sex, results that
many people fear.” Further, the report showed “Comprehensive
programs worked for both genders, for all major ethnic groups, for sexually inexperienced
and experienced teens, in different settings, and in different communities.”The United Nations
Population Fund (UNFPA) recommends comprehensive sexuality education, as it enables young people
to make informed decisions about their sexuality. According to UNFPA,”It is taught over several
years, introducing age-appropriate information consistent with the evolving capacities of
young people. It includes scientifically accurate, curriculum-based
information about human development, anatomy and pregnancy. It also includes information about contraception
and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. And it goes beyond information, to encourage
confidence and improved communication skills. Curricula should also address the social issues
surrounding sexuality and reproduction, including cultural norms, family life and interpersonal
relationships.” Human rights issues, gender equality and gender
roles should be integrated into every aspect of these discussions. This includes human rights protection, fulfilment
and empowerment; the impact of gender discrimination; the importance of equality and gender-sensitivity;
and the ideas underlying gender roles. Sexual abuse, gender-based violence and harmful
practices should also be discussed. Taken together, all this information teaches
young people the life skills necessary to assume responsibility for their own behavior
and to respect the rights of others.”Comprehensive sexuality education “enables young people
to make informed decisions about their sexuality and health. These programmes build life skills and increase
responsible behaviors, and because they are based on human rights principles, they help
advance human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of young people.”==Sources==Sex education may be taught informally, such
as when someone receives information from a conversation with a parent, friend, religious
leader, or through the media. It may also be delivered through sex self-help
authors, magazine advice columnists, sex columnists, or sex education web sites. Formal sex education occurs when schools or
health care providers offer sex education. Slyer stated that sex education teaches the
young person what he or she should know for his or her personal conduct and relationship
with others. Gruenberg also stated that sex education is
necessary to prepare the young for the task ahead. According to him, officials generally agree
that some kind of planned sex education is necessary.Sometimes formal sex education is
taught as a full course as part of the curriculum in junior high school or high school. Other times it is only one unit within a more
broad biology, health, home economics, or physical education class. Some schools offer no sex education, since
it remains a controversial issue in several countries, particularly the United States
(especially with regard to the age at which children should start receiving such education,
the amount of detail that is revealed, including LGBT sex education, and topics dealing with
human sexual behavior, e.g. safe sex practices, masturbation, premarital sex, and sexual ethics). Wilhelm Reich commented that sex education
of his time was a work of deception, focusing on biology while concealing excitement-arousal,
which is what a pubescent individual is mostly interested in. Reich added that this emphasis obscures what
he believed to be a basic psychological principle: that all worries and difficulties originate
from unsatisfied sexual impulses. Leepson asserted that the majority of people
favor some sort of sex instruction in public schools, and this has become an intensely
controversial issue because, unlike most subjects, sex education is concerned with an especially
sensitive and highly personal part of human life. He suggested that sex education should be
taught in the classroom. The problem of pregnancy in adolescents is
delicate and difficult to assess using sex education. But Calderone believed otherwise, stating
that the answer to adolescents’ sexual woes and pregnancy can not lie primarily in school
programmes which at best can only be remedial; what is needed is prevention education and
as such parents should be involved. When sex education is contentiously debated,
the chief controversial points are whether covering child sexuality is valuable or detrimental;
whether LGBT sex education should be integrated into the curriculum; the use of birth control
such as condoms and hormonal contraception; and the impact of such use on pregnancy outside
marriage, teenage pregnancy, and the transmission of STIs. Increasing support for abstinence-only sex
education by conservative groups has been one of the primary causes of this controversy. Countries with conservative attitudes towards
sex education (including the UK and the U.S.) have a higher incidence of STIs and teenage
pregnancy.==Public opinion==
A survey conducted in Britain, Canada and the United States by Angus Reid Public Opinion
in November 2011 asked adult respondents to look back to the time when they were teenagers,
and describe how useful several sources were in enabling them to learn more about sex. By far, the largest proportion of respondents
in the three countries (74% in Canada, 67% in Britain and 63% in the United States) said
that conversations with friends were “very useful” or “moderately useful.” The next reputable source was the media (television,
books, movies, magazines), mentioned by three-in-five British (65%) and Canadians (62%) and more
than half of Americans (54%) as useful. There are some striking differences on two
other sources. While half of Canadians (54%) and Americans
(52%) found their sex education courses at school to be useful, only 43% of British share
the same view. And while more than half of Americans (57%)
say conversations with family were useful, only 49% of Canadians and 35 percent of British
had the same experience.==By area=====
Africa===Sex education in Africa has focused on stemming
the growing AIDS epidemic. Most governments in the region have established
AIDS education programs in partnership with the World Health Organization and international
NGOs. These programs were undercut significantly
by the Global Gag Rule, an initiative put in place by President Ronald Reagan, suspended
by President Bill Clinton, and re-instated by President George W. Bush. The Global Gag Rule “…required nongovernmental
organizations to agree as a condition of their receipt of Federal funds that such organizations
would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in
other nations….” The Global Gag Rule was again suspended as
one of the first official acts by United States President Barack Obama. The incidences of new HIV transmissions in
Uganda decreased dramatically when Clinton supported a comprehensive sex education approach
(including information about contraception and abortion). According to Ugandan AIDS activists, the Global
Gag Rule undermined community efforts to reduce HIV prevalence and HIV transmission.Egypt
teaches knowledge about male and female reproductive systems, sexual organs, contraception and
STDs in public schools at the second and third years of the middle-preparatory phase (when
students are aged 12–14). A coordinated program between UNDP, UNICEF,
and the ministries of health and education promotes sexual education at a larger scale
in rural areas and spreads awareness of the dangers of female genital mutilation.===Asia===
The state of sex education programs in Asia is at various stages of development.====Thailand====
In Thailand there has been progress on sex education, with the boundaries being pushed
forward with each revision of the curriculum. The first national policy on sexuality education
in schools was announced in 1938, but sex education was not taught in schools until
1978. It was then called “Life and Family Studies”,
and its content consisted of issues related to the reproductive system and personal hygiene. The education curriculum has been revised
several times, involving efforts from both government and non-government sectors, and
sex education has been accepted as a problem solving tool for adolescent sexual reproduction
and health issues. This has been a consequence of educational
reform following the National Education Act B.E. 2542, increasing awareness of problems
related to adolescents’ sexual practices, and the emergence of women’s sexuality and
queer movements. Another new approach in sexuality education
curricula in Thailand has been the Teenpath Project developed by PATH, Thailand. PATH has also succeeded in institutionalizing
sexuality education curricula in schools since 2003.====India====
In India, there are many programs promoting sex education including information on AIDS
in schools as well public education and advertising. AIDS clinics however are not universally available.India
has a strong prevention program which goes hand in hand with care, support and treatment. We have been able to contain the epidemic
with a prevalence of just 0.31%. We have also brought about a decline of 50%
in new infections annually.====China====
In 2000, a new five-year project was introduced by the China Family Planning Association to
“promote reproductive health education among Chinese teenagers and unmarried youth” in
twelve urban districts and three counties. This included discussion about sex within
human relationships as well as pregnancy and HIV prevention. More recently, there has a been a great increase
in books about sex education for children and young adults.====Other countries====
Indonesia, Mongolia, and South Korea have a systematic policy framework for teaching
about sex within schools. Malaysia and Thailand have assessed adolescent
reproductive health needs with a view to developing adolescent-specific training, messages and
materials. Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan have
no coordinated sex education programs.In Japan, sex education is mandatory from age 10 or
11, mainly covering biological topics such as menstruation and ejaculation.In Sri Lanka,
sex education traditionally consisted of reading the reproduction section of biology textbooks. In Sri Lanka young people are taught when
they are 17–18 years old. The International Planned Parenthood Federation
and the BBC World Service ran a 12-part series known as Sexwise, which discussed sex education,
family life education, contraception and parenting. It was first launched in South Asia and then
extended worldwide.===Europe===
The World Health Organization and the German Federal Office of Health Education recommend
sex education for children of all ages.====Finland====
In Finland, sexual education is usually incorporated into various compulsory courses, mainly as
part of biology lessons (in lower grades) and later in a course related to general health
In France, sex education has been part of school curricula since 1973. Schools are expected to provide 30 to 40 hours
of sex education, and pass out condoms, to students in grades 8 and 9 (aged 15–16). In January 2000, the French government launched
an information campaign on contraception with TV and radio spots and the distribution of
five million leaflets on contraception to high school students. In September 2013, the government launched
a new program called “les ABCD de l’égalité” (the ABCD of equality) whose main aim is to
“fight gender stereotypes at school”. The ultimate goal is to foster mutual respect
between boys and girls early on so that it impacts their conception of the world later
The first state-sponsored courses on sex education were introduced in Breslau, Prussia c. 1900
by Dr. Martin Chotzen.In Germany, sex education has been part of school curricula since 1970. Since 1992 sex education is a governmental
duty by law.It normally covers all subjects concerning the process of growing up, bodily
changes during puberty, emotions involved, the biological process of reproduction, sexual
activity, partnership, homosexuality, unwanted pregnancies and the complications of abortion,
the dangers of sexual violence, child abuse, and sex-transmitted diseases. It is comprehensive enough that it sometimes
also includes things in its curricula such as sex positions. Most schools offer courses on the correct
usage of contraception.A sex survey by the World Health Organization concerning the habits
of European teenagers in 2006 revealed that German teenagers care about contraception. The birth rate among 15- to 19-year-olds was
very low—only 11.7 per 1000 people, compared to 27.8 births per 1,000 people in the UK,
and 39.0 births per 1,000 people in Bulgaria (which, incidentally, has the highest birth
rate in Europe).German Constitutional Court and later, in 2011, the European Court of
Human Rights, rejected complaints from several Baptists against Germany concerning mandatory
sex education.====Poland====
From a Western point of view, sex education in Poland has never actually developed. At the time of the People’s Republic of Poland,
since 1973, it was one of the school subjects; however, it was relatively poor and did not
achieve any actual success. After 1989, it practically vanished from the
school life—it is currently a subject called “Family Life Education” (wychowanie do życia
w rodzinie) rather than “Sex Education” (edukacja seksualna)—and schools explicitly require
parental consent for their children to attend sex ed classes. This policy is largely due to the strong objection
against sex education raised by the Catholic Church.====Portugal====
Some sex education is taught as part of biology-related curricula. There is also an official program intended
to provide sex education for students.====Netherlands====
Subsidized by the Dutch government, the “Long Live Love” package (Lang leve de liefde),
developed in the late 1980s, aims to give teenagers the skills to make their own decisions
regarding health and sexuality. Nearly all secondary schools provide sex education,
as part of biology classes and over half of primary schools discuss sexuality and contraception. Starting the 2012 school year, age-appropriate
sex education—including education about sexual diversity —will be compulsory in
all secondary and primary schools. The curriculum focuses on biological aspects
of reproduction as well as on values, attitudes, communication and negotiation skills. Dutch sex education encourages the idea that
topics like masturbation, homosexuality, and sexual pleasure are normal or natural and
that there are larger emotional, relational, and societal forces that shape the experiences
of sexuality. Moreover, according to Amy Schalet, Dutch
parents tend to form close relationships with their children, openly discussing teen sexuality. Dutch parents try to accept their children’s
romantic relationships and even allow sleepovers, expecting them to have sex. The media has encouraged open dialogue and
the health-care system guarantees confidentiality and a non-judgmental approach. The Netherlands has one of the lowest teenage
pregnancy rates in the world, and the Dutch approach is often seen as a model for other
In the Slovak republic the content of sex education varies from school to school, most
frequently as a segment of a larger lesson plan of a subject akin to “Nature science”
in English (this course covers both biology and petrology). Generally the sex ed content taught in Slovakia
is quite basic, sometimes lacking, though exactly what any given lesson contains varies
among schools and is dependent on the teacher’s knowledge of the subject. It is not uncommon for teachers to rely on
students asking questions (as opposed to documentaries, discussions, textbooks and in-class debates). Classes are usually divided into boys and
girls. Boys are taught the basics of sex, usually
limited to dialogue between student and teacher of annotated diagrams of genitalia; while
girls are additionally taught about menstruation and pregnancy.====Sweden====
In Sweden, sex education was established in 1921 for secondary education and in 1942 for
all grades. The subject is usually started in kindergarten
and continues cumulatively throughout the student’s entire schooling. This sexual education is incorporated into
different subjects such as biology and history. The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education
(RFSU) has a sex education that emphasizes “sexual diversity, freedom and enjoyment,”
and the RFSU collaborate frequently with government organizations such as the National Institute
of Public Health. Alongside this emphasis of sexual diversity,
Swedish sex education has equal incorporations of lesbian and gay sexuality as well as heterosexual
sexuality. They provide knowledge about masturbation,
oral and anal sex as well as heterosexual, genital intercourse.====Switzerland====
In Switzerland, the content and amount of sex education is decided at the cantonal level. In Geneva, courses have been given at the
secondary level first for girls since 1926 and compulsory programs have been implemented
at secondary level for all classes since the 1950s. In most French-speaking cantons since the
’70s, generalized courses have been implemented by states with duly formed and trained specialists
working within school health services at the secondary level. Interventions in primary schools were started
during the ’80s, with the basic objective of empowering children, strengthening their
resources, and giving the capacity to discriminate what is right or wrong based upon what is
and isn’t allowed by law and society. They are also given knowledge of their own
rights, told that they can have their own feelings about themselves, and informed on
who to talk to in case they feel uncomfortable about a private matter and wish to talk about
it. Finally, the objectives include an enforcement
of their capacity to decide for themselves and their ability to express their feeling
about a situation and say “No”. In secondary schools, there are programs at
ages 13–14 and 16-17 with the basic objective to give students a secure moment with caring,
well informed adults. With confidentiality and mutual respect, students
can talk to an adult who understands youth needs and what they should know about sexual
life in conformity with age and maturity. In the German part of the country, the situation
is somewhat different. Sex education as a school implemented program
is a fairly recent subject, the responsibility given to school teachers. Though federal structures give authority to
each State to decide, there are efforts, notably under the auspices of Santé sexuelle Suisse
– the Swiss branch of IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation) – to look for
and propose possible models of application which take into account all factors of sex
education according to their different levels of concern, parents, teachers, and external
experts.====United Kingdom=========
England and Wales=====Cecil Reddie ran the first sex education course
at a British school in October 1889 at Abbotsholme School.In England and Wales, Sex and relationship
education (SRE) is currently compulsory, in part, from age 11 onwards. It involves teaching children about reproduction,
sexuality and sexual health. It doesn’t promote early sexual activity
or any particular sexual orientation. The compulsory parts of sex and relationship
education are the elements contained within the national curriculum for science. Parents can currently withdraw their children
from all other parts of sex and relationship education if they want.The compulsory curriculum
focuses on the reproductive system, foetal development, and the physical and emotional
changes of adolescence, while information about contraception and safe sex is discretionary
and discussion about relationships is often neglected. Britain has one of the highest teenage pregnancy
rates in Europe However, these have halved across England and Wales in recent years and
continue to fall. Some schools actively choose to deliver age
appropriate relationship and sex education from Early Years Foundation Stage, which include
the differences between boys and girls, naming body parts, what areas of the body are private
and should not be touched unless the child is happy and gives consent.Following sustained
political pressure, in March 2017 it was announced by the Department for Education (DofE) that
from September 2019, Relationship Education (RE) in primary schools and Relationship and
Sex Education (RSE) in secondary schools will be made mandatory in England by the UK government. The existing category of SRE (Sex and Relationship
Education), is now referred to as RSE (Relationship and Sex Education) by the British government.A
consultation was held by the DofE from 19 December 2017 to 12 February 2018 to inform
the updated guidelines that will be released prior to the new mandatory subject being added
to the curriculum in England in 2019.=====Scotland=====
The main sex education programme in Scotland is Healthy Respect, which focuses not only
on the biological aspects of reproduction but also on relationships and emotions. Education about contraception and sexually
transmitted diseases are included in the programme as a way of encouraging good sexual health. In response to a refusal by Catholic schools
to commit to the programme, however, a separate sex education programme has been developed
for use in those schools. Funded by the Scottish Government, the programme
Called to Love focuses on encouraging children to delay sex until marriage, and does not
cover contraception, and as such is a form of abstinence-only sex education.===North America=======
Canada====As education is a provincial concern, sex
education varies across Canada. Ontario has a provincial curriculum created
in 1998. Attempting to update it has proven controversial:
a first reform was shelved in 2010 and a new curriculum introduced in 2015 by the Liberal
government under Kathleen Wynne was reversed three years later by the Conservatives under
Doug Ford, inviting parents to file complaints against teachers who won’t comply with the
change. Mandatory sex education was removed from the
Quebec provincial curriculum in 2005, leaving it at the discretion of each teacher. With rates of syphilis and gonorrhea rising
in the province since this change, several researchers and sex educators are criticizing
the current policy, most notably Lisa Trimble and Stephanie Mitelman. It was brought back as a facultative subject
in 2016-2017, then mandatory for the 2017-2018 school year.====United States====Almost all U.S. students receive some form
of sex education at least once between grades 7 and 12; many schools begin addressing some
topics in grades 5 or 6. However, what students learn varies widely,
because curriculum decisions are so decentralized. Many states have laws governing what is taught
in sex education classes and contain provisions to allow parents to opt out. Some state laws leave curriculum decisions
to individual school districts.For example, a 1999 study by the Guttmacher Institute found
that most U.S. sex education courses in grades 7 through 12 cover puberty, HIV, STIs, abstinence,
implications of teenage pregnancy, and how to resist peer pressure. Other studied topics, such as methods of birth
control and infection prevention, sexual orientation, sexual abuse, and factual and ethical information
about abortion, varied more widely.Only two forms of sex education are taught in American
schools: “abstinence plus” and “abstinence-only”. “Abstinence plus” (also known as comprehensive
sex education) covers abstinence as a positive choice, but also teaches about contraception
and the avoidance of STIs when sexually active. A 2002 study conducted by the Kaiser Family
Foundation found that 58% of secondary school principals describe their sex education curriculum
as “abstinence plus”.Abstinence-only sex education tells teenagers that they should be sexually
abstinent until marriage and does not provide information about contraception. In the Kaiser study, 34% of high-school principals
said their school’s main message was abstinence-only. Among 48 of the 50 U.S. states (the exceptions
were North Dakota and Wyoming) in their 2005 state laws and policies, 21 stressed abstinence-only
sexual education and 7 emphasized that abstinence should be taught in their state’s sexual education
programs. Only 11 states require that students receive
both comprehensive and abstinence education and 9 states did not mention any sort of sexual
education in their laws and policies.The difference between these two approaches, and their impact
on teen behavior, remains a controversial subject. In the U.S., teenage birth rates had been
dropping since 1991, but a 2007 report showed a 3% increase from 2005 to 2006. From 1991 to 2005, the percentage of teens
reporting that they had ever had sex or were currently sexually active showed small declines. However, the U.S. still has the highest teen
birth rate and one of the highest rates of STIs among teens in the industrialized world. Public opinion polls conducted over the years
have found that the vast majority of Americans favor broader sex education programs over
those that teach only abstinence, although abstinence educators recently published poll
data with the opposite conclusion.Proponents of comprehensive sex education, which include
the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the National
Association of School Psychologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public
Health Association, the Society for Adolescent Medicine and the American College Health Association,
argue that sexual behavior after puberty is a given, and it is therefore crucial to provide
information about the risks and how they can be minimized; they also claim that denying
teens such factual information leads to unwanted pregnancies and STIs. On the other hand, proponents of abstinence-only
sex education object to curricula that fail to teach their standard of moral behavior;
they maintain that a morality which is based on sex only within the bounds of marriage
is “healthy and constructive” and that value-free knowledge of the body may lead to immoral,
unhealthy, and harmful practices. Within the last decade, the federal government
has encouraged abstinence-only education by steering over a billion dollars to such programs. Some 25 states now decline the funding so
that they can continue to teach comprehensive sex education. Funding for one of the federal government’s
two main abstinence-only funding programs, Title V, was extended only until December
31, 2007; Congress is debating whether to continue it past that date.The impact of the
rise in abstinence-only education remains a question. To date, no published studies of abstinence-only
programs have found consistent and significant program effects on delaying the onset of intercourse. In 2007, a study ordered by the U.S. Congress
found that middle school students who took part in abstinence-only sex education programs
were just as likely to have sex (and use contraception) in their teenage years as those who did not. Abstinence-only advocates claimed that the
study was flawed because it was too narrow and began when abstinence-only curricula were
in their infancy, and that other studies have demonstrated positive effects.According to
a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in 2007, teen pregnancies in the United
States showed a 3% increase in the teen birth rate from 2005 to 2006, to nearly 42 births
per 1,000.According to Anna Mulrine of U.S. News & World Report, records show that professionals
still do not know which method of sex education works best to keep teens from engaging in
sexual activity, but they are still working to find out.=====Virginia=====
Virginia uses the sex education program called The National Campaign to prevent teen and
unplanned pregnancy. The National Campaign was created in 1996
and focuses on preventing teen and unplanned pregnancies of young adults. The National Campaign set a goal to reduce
teen pregnancy rate by 1/3 in 10 years. The Virginia Department of Health ranked Virginia
19th in teen pregnancy birth rates in 1996. Virginia was also rated 35.2 teen births per
1,000 girls aged 15–19 in 2006. The Healthy people 2010 goal is a teen pregnancy
rate at or below 43 pregnancies per 1,000 females age 15–17.=====Texas=====
Sex education in Texas has recently become a policy of much focus in the state. With the rise of recent protests and proposed
bills in the Texas House, the current policy has been the focus of much scrutiny. As of 1997, when Senate Bill 1 was enacted,
Texas has left the decision of inclusion of sex education classes within schools up to
the individual districts. The school board members are entitled to approve
all curricula that are taught; however the bill has certain criteria that a school must
abide by when choosing to teach Sex Ed. These include: present abstinence from sexual activity as
the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons
of school age; devote more attention to abstinence from sexual
activity than to any other behavior; emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity,
if used consistently and correctly, is the only method that is 100 percent effective
in preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, infection with Human Immunodeficiency
Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and the emotional trauma
associated with adolescent sexual activity; direct adolescents to a standard of behavior
in which abstinence from sexual activity before marriage is the most effective way to prevent
pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and infection with HIV or AIDS; and
teach contraception and condom use in terms of real-world failure rates, not statistics
based on laboratory rates, if instruction on contraception and condoms is included in
curriculum content.Additionally, school districts are not authorized to distribute condoms in
connection with instruction relating to human sexuality.Since the enactment of this policy,
several research studies have been done to evaluate the Sex Ed Policy, namely the abstinence-only
aspect of the teaching. Drs. David Wiley and Kelly Wilson published
the Just Say Don’t Know: Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools report where they
found that: Shaming and fear-based instruction are commonly
used for teaching sex ed Gender stereotypes are promoted
A majority of students receive no information about human sexuality except abstinence
The materials used regularly contain factual errors and distort the truth about condoms
and STDsAccording to Texas State Representative Mike Villarreal, “We have a responsibility
to ensure that our children receive accurate information in the classroom, particularly
when students’ health is at stake,” Villarreal said. “We’re dealing with a myriad of problems in
Texas as a result of our sky high teen pregnancy rates. We cannot allow our schools to provide erroneous
information—the stakes are far too high.” With this in mind, many state legislators
have proposed bills to improve sex education in Texas Schools. SB 852/HB 1624 – In Feb 2011, Senator Ellis
proposed The Education Works bill. This bill would require schools that teach
sex education to provide evidence-based, age-appropriate information that emphasizes the importance
of abstinence as the only 100% effective method of avoiding sexually transmitted infections
(STIs) and pregnancy, while also teaching about contraceptive methods to avoid STIs
and pregnancy. HB 741/SB 515 – In 2011, Representatives
Joaquin Castro and Mike Villarreal introduced a bill calling for abstinence-plus sexual
health education bill. The bill would have medically accurate information,
including: abstinence, contraception, and what it really takes to be a parent. The bill received a hearing but was left in
committee. HB 1567/ SB 1076 – Introduced in 2009 by
Villarreal, this bill would have required instruction on contraceptive use to be scientifically
accurate when it is taught as part of a school’s sexual health curriculum. It did not receive a hearing.Scientific evidence
accumulated over many decades clearly demonstrates that the abstinence-only-until-married (AOUM)
curriculum taught in Texas schools is harmful and ineffective in reducing the adolescent
pregnancy rate in Texas. Despite these facts, recently published in
the Journal of Adolescent Health, AOUM programs continue to be funded by the U.S. government. In fact, the U.S. government has spent more
than $2 billion over the last 20 years to prohibit much-needed sex education in public
schools, choosing instead to fund the AOUM curriculum while the adolescent pregnancy
rates continue to rise.Catholic schools in Texas follow Catholic Church teachings in
regard to Sex Education. Some opponents of sex education in Catholic
schools believe sex ed programs are doing more harm to the young than good. Opponents of sex education contend that children
are not mentally and emotionally ready for this type of instruction, and believe that
exposing the young to sex ed programs may foster the students with the preoccupation
of sex. The Catholic Church believes that parents
are the first educators and should rightfully fight for their duty as such in regard to
sex education: Humanae Vitae teaches that the faithful must
form their ‘consciences’ as a guide to Christ-like decision making in regard to sex education. the young should not engage in premarital
sex, adultery, fornication or other acts of impurity or scandals to others
Pope John Paul II says that sex education is “a basic right and duty of parents.”===Oceania=======Australia====
The Government of Victoria (Australia) developed a policy for the promotion of Health and Human
Relations Education in schools in 1980 that was introduced into the State’s primary and
secondary schools during 1981. The initiative was developed and implemented
by the Honorable Norman Lacy MP, Minister for Educational Services from 1979-1982. A Consultative Council for Health and Human
Relations Education was established in December 1980 under the chairmanship of Dame Margaret
Blackwood; its members possessed considerable expertise in the area. The Council had three major functions: to advise and to be consulted on all aspects
of Health and Human Relations’ Education in schools;
to develop, for consideration of the Government, appropriate curriculum for schools;
to advise and recommend the standards for in-service courses for teachers and relevant
members of the school community.Support services for the Consultative Council were provided
by a new Health and Human Relations Unit within the Special Services Division of the Education
Department of Victoria and was responsible for the implementation of the Government’s
policy and guidelines in this area. The Unit advised principals, school councils,
teachers, parents, tertiary institutions and others in all aspects of Health and Human
Relations Education. In 1981 the Consultative Council recommended
the adoption of a set of guidelines for the provision of Health and Human Relations Education
in schools as well as a Curriculum Statement to assist schools in the development of their
programs. These were presented to the Victorian Cabinet
in December 1981 and adopted as Government policy.====New Zealand====
In New Zealand, sexuality education is part of the Health and Physical Education curriculum,
which is compulsory for the first ten years of schooling (Years 1 to 10) but optional
beyond that. Sexual and reproductive health education begins
at Year 7 (approx. age 11), although broader issues such as physical,
emotional and social development, personal and interpersonal skills, and (non-sexual)
relationships begin as early as Year 1 (approx. age 5).The Health / Hauora curriculum, including
the sexuality education component, is the only part of the New Zealand Curriculum / Te
Matauranga o Aotearoa (the former for English-medium schools, the latter for Māori-medium schools)
in which state and state-integrated schools must legally consult with the school community
regarding its delivery, and the consultations must occur at least once every two years. Parents can ask for their children to be removed
from the sexuality education component of the health curriculum for any reason, provided
they apply in writing to the school principal, and do so at least 24 hours beforehand so
alternative arrangements can be made. However, this does not prevent a teacher answering
sexuality education questions if a student, excluded or not, asks them.==Morality==
There are two opposing sides of the sex education argument amongst parents. Sexual liberals see knowledge on sex as equipping
individuals to make informed decisions about their personal sexuality, and they are in
favor of comprehensive sexual education all throughout schooling, not just in high school. Sexual conservatives see knowledge on sex
as encouraging adolescents to have sex, and they believe that sex should be taught inside
the family in order for their morals to be included in the conversation. Sexual conservatives see the importance of
teaching sex education, but only through abstinence-only programs.Another viewpoint on sex education,
historically inspired by sexologists such as Wilhelm Reich and psychologists such as
Sigmund Freud and James W. Prescott, holds that what is at stake in sex education is
control over the body and liberation from social control. Proponents of this view tend to see the political
question as whether society or the individual should teach sexual mores. Sexual education may thus be seen as providing
individuals with the knowledge necessary to liberate themselves from socially organized
sexual oppression and to make up their own minds. In addition, sexual oppression may be viewed
as socially harmful. Sex and relationship experts like Reid Mihalko
of “Reid About Sex” suggest that open dialogue about physical intimacy and health education
can generate more self-esteem, self-confidence, humor, and general health.Some claim that
certain sex education curricula break down pre-existing notions of modesty or encourage
acceptance of what they consider immoral practices, such as homosexuality or premarital sex. A website which supports that view is the
Coalition for Positive Sexuality. Naturally, those that believe that homosexuality
and premarital sex are a normal part of the range of human sexuality disagree with them.Sociologist
Amitai Etzioni argues sex education provides an opportunity to teach students facts about
health within the context of values that responsible and moral persons seek to affirm and embody
in their lives. Instead of teaching sex as a purely scientific
biological process, sex education should promote discussions about human nature, intimacy,
and how social commitments improve health and happiness. Programs should discuss responsibilities to
better equip students with communication skills and conflict resolution strategies.Many religions
teach that sexual behavior outside of marriage is immoral and/or psychologically damaging,
and many adherents desire this morality to be taught as a part of sex education. They may believe that sexual knowledge is
necessary, or simply unavoidable, hence their preference for curricula based on abstinence.==LGBT sex education==One major source of controversy in the realm
of sex education is whether LGBT sex education should be integrated into school curricula. LGBT sex education includes safe sex practices
for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and general instruction in topics
related to homosexuality. Studies have shown that many schools do not
offer such education today. Eight states (Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah) have laws in place that ban teaching
LGBT sex education. Only 20% of LGBT students have heard anything
positive about their community and they reported in a 2011 Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education
Network (GLSEN) report that they were more likely to hear positive information about
LGBT people from a history or social studies class rather than a health class.===Pro-LGBT===
Proponents of LGBT sex education argue that encompassing homosexuality into the curricula
would provide LGBT students with the sexual health information they need, and help to
ameliorate problems such as low self-esteem and depression that research has shown can
be present in LGBT individuals. They also claim that it could reduce homophobic
bullying.An example of LGBT-inclusive curriculum is introduced by the National Sexuality Education
Standards set forth by the Future of Sex Education Initiative. These education standards outline seven core
topics that must be addressed in sex education; one of those core topics is identity. The identity topic presents lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender identities as possibilities for students as they progress through life
and come to understand who they are. These standards, the Future of Sex Education
argues, will start in kindergarten and will evolve into more complex topics throughout
schooling as the students mature and age. In the UK, BigTalk Education’s Growing Up
Safe programme includes LGBT relationship education from Primary School age, was awarded
the 2017 Pamela Sheridan award for innovation and good practice in relationships and sex
education (RSE), services and projects for young people.===Anti-LGBT===
Opponents often argue that teaching LGBT sex education would be disrespectful to some religions
and expose students to inappropriate topics. They say that including homosexuality in the
curriculum would violate parents’ rights to control what their children are exposed
to and that schools should not inflict a particular political view on students. Currently, many sex education curricula do
not include LGBT topics, and research has reported that students often feel that they
do not receive adequate instruction in LGBT sex topics.==See also

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