Getting it on with smart sex

Lauren Alparaz, Staff Writer

In the words of the gym teacher from the satirical comedy Mean Girls, “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die! Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up, just don’t do it, OK, promise? OK, now everybody take some rubbers…” That iconic scene of the beloved comedy makes a comment on a controversial topic in America: sex education.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), public school students in every state receive some form of sex education. However, all of America’s students don’t get the same education. The term “sex education” can be stretched widely, and some states still use the term despite not teaching a single thing about HIV/AIDS education.

What’s more frightening about the NCSL’s statistics is that of the 22 states that require sex education, only 19 of them require what’s being taught to be “medically, factually, or technically accurate.” What happens to children in the three states whose sex education can be a free for all? Those children are deprived of essential knowledge, and although they may know that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, they won’t know how a morning-after pill works.

Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die! ”

— Mean Girls (2004)

Realistically, which is more useful in everyday life? When we’ve graduated high school and biology is behind us, our knowledge of the cell structure’s functions doesn’t matter nearly as much as forms of birth control.

It would be naive to think that the majority of American teenagers stay abstinent. That’s an unrealistic expectation in a world that advertises sex on billboards and commercials. So why do public schools continue to teach abstinence-only-until-marriage programs? They’re entertaining themselves with a diluted version of their students, acting as if statistics don’t completely showcase a great need for comprehensive sex education.

According to Advocates for Youth, 70 percent of U.S. females and 62 percent of U.S. males have initiated vaginal sex by age 18. You would think that school districts would get the hint and enforce a more effective form of sex education when there is hard evidence that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs aren’t coming up to their promises.

Virginity pledges are featured in abstinence-only-until marriage programs, and they’re promises that teenagers make to abstain from sex up until they’re married. Virginity pledge programs increase pledge-takers’ risk for STIs and pregnancy, according to researchers at Columbia university. Abstinence-only-until marriage programs don’t just prove to be ineffective; in fact, they’ve proven to be counterintuitive. Although some church-going-folk believe that comprehensive sex education programs encourage premarital sex, they’re doing nothing but raising the already high rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.

It would be naive to think that the majority of American teenagers stay abstinent.”

Although California requires HIV/Aids prevention instruction, details of the law are vague. According to the California Department of Education, HIV/AIDS prevention instruction must include “methods to reduce the risk of HIV infection, including both abstinence and condoms.” But what exactly does that mean? Such a vague requirement can range from covering chapters of it in a textbook, to a teacher simply saying “Don’t have sex, because you will get HIV/AIDS, and you will die.”

California public school teachers are not required to teach comprehensive sex education; however, HIV/AIDS prevention education is mandatory. Although California isn’t necessarily required to teach comprehensive sex ed, a survey conducted by PB Consulting says “96 percent of California school districts provide comprehensive sexual health education.” According to health teacher Randy Tiffany, the Glendale Unified School District is supposed to teach abstinence, with mentioning birth control. Health teachers at Clark aren’t allowed to show how to use condoms, nor are they allowed to pass them out.

Useful, right? Students can hear about condoms, maybe see them in stores, and watch commercials for them on every television network, but they won’t know how to use them. In schools that exclusively offer abstinence only sex education, students will go into the real world unequipped with knowledge on how to sexually protect themselves. Without comprehensive, interactive sex education, danger awaits students in bed.