Why Do Schools Teach Sex Education?
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Why Do Schools Teach Sex Education?


In 1994 Clinton administration Surgeon General
Joycelyn Elders was forced to resign amidst stinging condemnation of her stance on a major
political issue: sex. In front of an audience, she said that she was in favor of masturbation
being part of children’s sex education curriculum, noting that it was a safer alternative to
high risk sex. Dr. Elders drew ire from conservative officials and members of her own democratic party. Her views on pro-choice policies, the legalization of certain
drugs, and distributing contraceptives in schools to minimize the spread of STIs made
her a lightning rod of controversy during her tenure as Surgeon General. So an aversion
to kids being taught about the more…indelicate parts of sex by school officials turned out
to be an unexpected bipartisan unifier. But we’ve come a long way in our collective
knowledge on sex since pamphlets in the 1830s and before which described masturbation as “self-pollution”
that could lead to blindness and insanity. But the core questions that make school administrators
so darn squeamish about sex ed have remained relatively unchanged. Namely: What (if any) information on sex should school
curriculums include? How much is enough or too much?
And should schools be in the business of doling out info on sexual health at all? Prior to the 20th century, information on
sex and sexuality was largely confined to two spheres: homes and religious institutions.
Students (and children in general) were expected to gain any knowledge of the mysteries of
human sexuality from their parents or their religious leaders. Schools didn’t disseminate
information about sex at all because in the US they were largely privately owned and operated
until the tail end of the 19th century. This was for a variety of reasons, including
the fact that schooling wasn’t mandatory for all children in the US and schools weren’t
usually run by government agencies. Although The Boston Latin School was the first public
school opened in 1635 in what would later become the United States, governments didn’t
have control over things such as admissions and curriculums. This took a huge turn in the late 19th century
when after the Industrial Revolution reformers and educators began to push the concept that
all children SHOULD be educated. And though their definition of “all” often meant
young white boys, ideas about the virtues of education became more widespread. Facilities for
female students, black students, orphaned students, poor students, and students of color
sprung up rapidly, with the common mission to provide some form of education to the masses. But subjects varied dramatically from school
to school. Some elite institutions focused on a “classic” education that centered
around things like Latin, Greek, and the humanities. Others were trade schools that placed higher
importance on teaching skills for the workforce. And others still were religious schools that
coupled moral instruction with education. Then in the early 20th century governments
across the US and Europe began to do two things. First they started to regulate child labor
practices, meaning that kids couldn’t work for untold numbers of hours. In 1938, this
culminated with the passage in the US of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which set the minimum
work age at 14, 16 during the school year, 14 for after school jobs, and 18 for dangerous
jobs. And secondly governments started to regulate
how many years students had to stay in school, then raised the age to 16 and later 18. Massachusetts
passed the first mandatory schooling act in the US in 1852 and Mississippi was the final
state to pass one in 1918. So work hours were greatly reduced while school hours saw a sharp
incline. You can learn more about this in our video “Why is 18 considered an adult?” And once students started spending the majority
of their active hours from Monday to Friday in schools, schools began to take on a greater social significance and importance in the lives of their students. So school attendance was mandatory nationwide
by 1918, and the numbers of children being placed in school steadily increased after
that after the laws were enforced. But the first instance of the American government getting in on the sex ed front
didn’t take place in classrooms. Rather it took place in the army. After widespread outbreaks of STIs during
WW1, Congress passed the Chamberlain-Kahn Act in 1918. Folded into this law was language
on educating soldiers about the dangers of widespread venereal diseases like syphilis
and gonorrhea. This education largely came in the form of clinics, pamphlets and lectures. There were also waves of government memoranda on health that were released at the same time. They taught new recruits about clean water, proper sanitation, vaccinations, and personal hygiene
(plus a fair amount of discussion about how to properly dispose of poop). The Chamberlain-Kahn Act was especially centered
around keeping military bases and the surrounding areas (identified as “extra-cantonment zones”
in health reports) free from disease. And around this same time police and government
officials were given the authority to arrest and detain anyone they suspected was carrying
an STI in and around army bases. But the prevailing (mis)information at the
time was that the primary carriers of these diseases were only women, civilians, and sex
workers. Thousands of women were arrested and detained in state managed prisons and
hospitals, all under the supposition that they were either infecting soldiers or moving
closer to military bases because they were sex workers. The Chamberlain-Kahn era of sexual education
is widely considered extreme (and a human rights violation) today. But the agenda outlined
in the act in fact demonstrates the long standing relationship between the government, sexual
instruction and overall health of its citizens. So sex has frequently been aligned with the
concepts of overall health, hygiene, and disease prevention. But when did schools get in on
the act? In his book Too Hot to Handle: A Global History
of Sex Education historian Jonathan Zimmerman traces the history of when sex ed entered
schools around the world. He begins his study with an anecdote about a failed measure brought
before the League of Nations in 1928 by the British delegation. Zimmerman notes how the British delegation
proposed that the League should support the worldwide expansion of sexual instruction
in schools under the heading of “biological education.” They used (founded) fears about
the spread of venereal diseases, mixed with coded language about eugenics and racial purity. Although the measure didn’t advance, sex
ed in the postwar period did begin to take root in countries like Japan, the US, and
Great Britain. Governments and health care officials were becoming more aware that reliable
information on sexual health was scarce amongst the general public. And they were also invested
in things like maintaining the health and “purity” of their citizens and soldiers. With the spread of compulsory education, schools
became the one place where health officials had a truly captive audience. Plus, when it
became mandatory, they can guarantee in theory that all children were getting this
vital information. Along with the expansion of state run schools nationwide in the early
20th century came a slew of ideas about what responsibility educators (and governments)
had to the children in their care. At different points in time the agenda of sex education
was taken up, or abandoned based on shifts in the answer to this question of moral responsibility. Early sexual education rolled out piecemeal
during the 1920s-1950s, with Sweden becoming the first country in the world to require
sex ed for all students in 1956. And although the US has often had a contentious and spotty
history with it, the US was also an early adopter of giving students information about
the birds and the bees. But the controversies that erupted around the 1928 push in the League
of Nations to spread sex ed world wide sound pretty much identical to the arguments heard today (minus the stuff about eugenics). And this essentially breaks down into 3 categories: The first is that sex and sexuality is a topic
that should be left up to parents. In fact Zimmerman notes how many early opposers of
teaching sex in school thought that schools were encroaching on the territory of moral
instruction that should be the rightful domain of parents. Some said that sex was best taught
by mothers, without the influence of local governments. Second is that integrating sex into schools
often brings the question “how much is too much?” front and center. While some think
any education on the topic of sex is a bad thing, others disagree and think that students
should learn vital facts and unbiased knowledge. But even among those who think that sex ed
is a good thing, opinions vary about exactly what to teach. Some want an all inclusive
sex ed curriculum that teaches about safe sex, answers students health questions, and
also looks at the wider and more complex spectrum of human sexuality. Others think that sex
ed should be tied to other types of “moral instruction” which has included methods
that centered on “family life education” and traditional family planning in the 1950s
and 60s. At that time hysteria about the rise of teen
pregnancies led to courses where sex was discussed largely using euphemisms and metaphors about
animals and plants. But in the wake of the AIDS epidemic, comprehensive sex ed that taught about disease prevention did experience a boom in the late 1980s until the mid 1990s. On the other hand, around this same time you began getting federal support for abstinence only education, and in the late 90s Abstinence Only Until Marriage (AOUM)
programs exploded nationwide. Returning to the days when only basic facts and abstinence
outside of marriage was the standard method of sex ed, Abstinence only education has been
linked to poorer outcomes for students overall. And the third reason centers not on clueless
kids, anxious administrators, and peeved parents, but rather on the often forgotten middle guy:
that’s right teachers. Because even though mandates and guidelines get handed down from
government officials, and parents may picket the school board meetings if they don’t
get their way, at the end of the day it’s teachers who are left to dole out this information
to waiting pupils. And just like with any subject, essentially what a kid learns or
doesn’t learn is left up to who is holding the chalk at the front of the room. I just
realized that chalk at the front of the room is an outdated metaphor but we’ll go with
it. Zimmerman points out that by 1969 in sex ed
pioneer Sweden, more than ⅓ of Swedish students had never encountered sex ed in the classroom,
even though it had been compulsory since the 1950s. Teachers admitted to being uninformed,
unprepared, and sometimes embarrassed to bring up the topic in front of students, which led
them to skip over it altogether. And in 2006 90% of Swedish teachers still agreed that
they had received “little or no preparation” in teaching sex ed. And in the US similar
problems persist, since the choices made in the classroom are often left up to the discretion of local governments and oversight is extremely localized, leading to mixed results for every student. So early 20th century sex ed was largely about
keeping armies around the world healthy, before it evolved to include topics like pregnancy,
sexuality and relationships. And if the stories from the past sound shockingly like the same
backlash that led to Dr. Elders’ firing in 1994, it’s because attitudes towards
integrating sex into general education haven’t budged much in hundreds of years. So there
you have it, you’ve learned the history of sex ed so hopefully we won’t be doomed
to repeat it because that would be way too awkward. What do you think? Anything else to add to
this story? Did you make it through the entire episode without giggling awkwardly about something
your high school sex ed teacher said in class? Drop all of your questions and adolescent
anecdotes down below. And if you like Origin of Everything and you want to see more content
here every week, then be sure to subscribe on Youtube and follow us on Facebook. Plus
our Instagram and Twitter aren’t bad, so you can head there to find more info. That’s
it for now and I’ll see you guys here next week

75 Comments

  • Althea Gray

    It kills me how in this day and age, People are still embarrassed about Sex. Great quote I heard in a TV show, " We EXIST because of Sex. It is not something to be afraid of. It is something to honor. To enjoy". Because Sex is still allowed to be treated as taboo and dirty, it's no wonder kids grow up confused with possible issues. It just continues onto the next generation where the same kids who've become parents can't talk to their own Children. Just a sad circle going round and round …

  • Tabitha A Smith

    I actually had a friend who's mom was a nurse so that's where most of my education came from (that and college, it was wonderful that my classmates were extremely nature and willing to talk about it without shame. That's how I found out about toxic shock, pap smears, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis). My sex Ed teacher basically said 1. I couldn't be an identical twin bc we were both girls (not related to the lesson just something she stated) 2. All of her tests and diagrams were handwritten and drawn then badly photocopied so we couldn't read them 3. She went into great detail about the penis and how it functions then said girls we already know what's up we don't need to talk about lady bits. And that was that. Other than a brief diagram of what was supposed to be ovaries. And a video of a woman giving birth that we couldn't see bc the class was in a trailer and only like 2 seats were close enough. She also gave some girl the Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve lecture for weeks during the gym half of the year. Did I mention sex Ed was only half a year? This was about 2010 or 2011

  • FlyToTheRain

    Lol I went to Catholic school and we got nothing. Even the abstinence only theory was really just strongly implied and never outright spoken. Certain sections of our health and wellness textbooks were whited out. I think it's crazy that I was indoctrinated from a young age to recite a prayer about a virgin on the daily, but never was told what that meant.

  • raikupwns243

    My aunt who went to school in probably the 60s was never told anything about how her body would change, not be her parents, teachers, or religious leaders. When she got her first period at school she thought she was dying. I’m glad things have opened up a little since then, my experience was no shock to me and I was well prepared. I hate that this still might be the horrible reality for some children though.

  • Pedro Marcelino

    My biology teacher's in high school would only teach subjects related to sex ed because it was in universityy entrance exam tests. It was all pretty pragmatic. hahaha

  • anne welch

    We had s-x ed in 6th grade, we watched two films called "From Girl to Woman" and From Boy to Man" then there was a book. There was no information on childbirth either. There was no information on STDs that I remember. This was in the 60s.

  • zacharymli

    What if we taught a class about the science of the human body, staying healthy, disease prevention, genetics, understanding and empathy related to people with disabilities, designing and planning for inclusivity and accessibility, relationships, psychology and mental health? Rather than breaking it up into bits, ignoring lots of it, and then talking about sex as if it’s taboo?

  • lekiscool

    I’m just frustrated that comprehensive safe sex education isn’t taught in schools. People are gonna have sex… they may as well be safe about it.

  • sheleavitt06

    I didn’t get any sex-ed in school because the grandparents of my best friend in high school had gotten the subject band 15 years before I started high school. As far as I know that is still the case for that school district so that’s almost 30 years of kids who better hope their parents tell them something. I know mine didn’t.

  • Lone Wolf

    I never even had Sex Ed in School. Our Sex Ed class focused only on teaching us, badly I might add, about First Aid and CPR.

  • Robin Chesterfield

    You know a place that DESPERATELY needs better sex education? Utah. They ONLY teach you about how babies are made. THAT'S IT! Nothing at all about safe sex, just: "Here is how it works. If you put Tab A in Slot B, fertilization happens and tada! Baby!" I seriously spent a couple of years after that thinking you ALWAYS got pregnant when you had sex…

    Seriously, the big cliche about the teacher putting the condom on the banana seems so alien to me, because in Utah that would literally have to be from another planet. The very idea of a teacher bringing up a subject like condoms in a classroom would just never be done. I mean…those are bad naughty words about naughty things! This is a culture where you sometimes get in trouble with your friend's parents for saying "Gosh darn it to heck!" because "I KNOW WHAT YOU REALLY MEANT", so…

  • Elizabeth Montgomery

    Ok so the solution is clear let’s start to train real teachers in sex education, just in sex education so they’re not all spooked and squeamish about teaching their students. Bring them in once a year starting in like 3rd grade, gear the information to the age group. Be freaking clear accurate and science based…

  • We are the Willmons

    I was 15 when received my only class sex education. It was, of course, abstinence only. This is funny because I also lost my virginity at 15. I honestly don't remember which happened first!

    I want my children to be taught by me, but only because the schools will never teach what I want taught, since we love in Alabama. I am going to teach my kids that they are human and they are going to have urges and feeling and that if they can/want to wait until marriage that's amazing. But if they fall in love at a young age (like I did), then that's their choice and I will be there for them either way and prove the things they need. I'd much rather have a teen who acts chooses to have sex, than one who gets an STI or has a teenage/unplanned/unwanted pregnancy!

  • D Caspar

    once I realize there is such thing as sex-ed. then I know why the teacher rarely teaches anything at all in my class.

  • gavin Reid

    In the early 1970s, in England, qhen I was about 10 ,we had sex education. I remember talk about puberty and venereal diseases.

  • Jena Chapman

    Yeah, my sexual education sucked. They told us love was a limited resource like oil and every time you had sex, you gave away your love. They told us that’s why celebrity relationships didn’t last that long. Probably two seconds on condoms and nothing about birth control or the freaking bloody goop coming out of my vagina every month.

  • Eve Kohley

    well, consent should be taught in civics/social studies classes since too many rapists claim to "not know what rape is".

  • Sean Fiction

    I live in Germany and somehow slipped through the gaps of disorganized sex ed in schools. But as teenagers we all read BRAVO magazine and that got the basics across.
    I am now in the process of becoming a teacher myself and have colleagues talk about their sex ed classes. Mostly I find them disappointingly hetero- and cisnormative =/

  • Mystee Pulcine

    I've been seriously considering writing a sex ed/puberty book for kids. Before this video, it hadn't occurred to me that it could be used in classrooms too. Thanks for the idea.

  • beanie0112

    I remember when I took sex Ed in school they taught us about the g-spot, anterior fornix, and milking the prostate on the last day.
    It was extremely informative and…uh…controversial.🙂

  • lemondrizzlecake

    It never fails to amaze me how prudish the US as a nation is. I grew up in Catholic, conservative Italy, and got comprehensive sex ed in school provided by actual sex educators. Like… not even at church they bothered with the "abstinence only" crap….

  • Bri Koala

    The main things I remember about sex ed were deeply uncomfortable male gym teachers having to teach it and watching a lot of videos that were about 20 years old. I also remember it getting worse over the years? In 5th grade they gave us pretty good information on puberty, in middle school they tried, even though the health classes put way more emphasis on "don't do drugs" and in high school it was laughably bad, literally their idea about teaching us about STIs was making us do words scrambles.

  • BarbE

    This is just really sad…its a mandate to have schools teach our children about sex yet school dont make it a mandate to talk about money management and finances…smh…and you wonder why there's an increase of single mothers and the US is in trillions of dollars in debt…side eye

  • BobC

    Discussions about Sex Ed so often pigeonhole it as somehow an isolated topic, seemingly separate from other areas of knowledge. You don't need Sex Ed to make babies: In fact, studies show that you get more babies without Sex Ed! Which is why so many confuse and conflate fuzzy definitions of "Sex Ed" with equally fuzzy definitions of "Birth Control".

    Yes, a lack of Sex Ed can indeed cause more babies. But you tend to get younger parents for those babies. Parents less ready for the ensuing decades of parenthood. You also get more sick babies, and more premature babies. And more sick parents. Lower rates of high school graduation and college attendance. Worse overall life outcomes for both the parents and their children.

    Sex Ed isn't a one-and-done panacea for these problems. In fact, the biological and medical sides of Sex Ed are the least important parts of it! What matters far more are the social and emotional aspects, the context of maturing one's mind in parallel with one's body. The body will mature no matter what. But it sets a clock ticking that has other impacts when the body fully matures before the mind is ready to cope with the implications.

    First, Birth Control is just that: Being aware of and in control of every part of the process from being a pre-pubescent to intentionally becoming (or not becoming) a parent. I really hate the word "Prevention" used in this context. It's like calling Driver's Education "Crash Prevention". In reality, the goal isn't merely to manage a single outcome (desired or otherwise), but to understand and successfully participate in the entire process.

    I think the basis for Sex Ed should rest on three legs of a knowledge stool. First, start with Gender Studies, both within the human domain and in nature as a whole, combined with Social Studies and Civics, where we learn how to function as individuals within society. Second, ensure a basic education in biology and the related sciences.

    Third is to learn how to reason about issues that have both factual and emotional components. How to detect one's own ignorance, how to remedy it, and how to constructively share and consider differing views. How to cope with feelings that may be stirred by social, mental and biological sources. How to not rely on others teaching you everything, but to become a curious observer of one's self and the surrounding world, forming and asking questions, then seeking answers.

    This third leg is sorely lacking. For example, I believe students should be exposed to mental/emotional tools like CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and it's spin-offs) well before the start of puberty. Also the reasoning needed to understand how to conduct detailed online searches that reveal useful and accurate information, and determine when they haven't found reliable information.

    Personally, I was very fortunate to have had 3 months of Debate and Rhetoric while in 5th grade. The goal wasn't to simply learn how to win an argument or be persuasive, but to understand the communication tools involved, and how to use them. Which meant learning how to think in ways that even made them useful in the first place, to develop both a body of knowledge and lines of reasoning. Those brief few months converted school from primarily a social experience burdened with homework, to being something that could make me a much more able person, unafraid to discuss difficult or awkward issues, especially with adults.

    It is beyond awesome to watch young minds become empowered with such tools. To see them applied to themselves, each other, and the world at large. They won't enter the adult world knowing everything in advance, but they can be trusted to know how to find what they need.

    At some point, we all must accept that no school system can teach every student what they need to know, and that relatively few parents are able to fill in all the gaps. Students must enter the world able to figure things out on their own, independent of what they have or have not learned from school, their parents, or society at large.

    Sex Ed doesn't need to teach all the details! Just explore the general territory, reason about key factors and issues, and emphasize the personal responsibility component of both the fun (and risks) of sex and the joy (and work) of prepared parenting. With the three legs of the stool in place, Sex Ed could be quite brief. Without all three legs, it could easily be the case that no amount of Sex Ed would be enough.

    Stop treating Sex Ed as a "thing" off in its own corner! It's simply one more aspect of being an individual in society. Let's focus on that.

  • Random Potato

    That's if you're lucky enough to get good sex ed. My high school only really taught abstinence and showed pictures of STDs/STIs.

  • skyliner114

    i went to a catholic school. girls and boys were put in different classrooms for "family life planning" which was a week of "sex ed" instead of our usual religion course. girls were told you will get your period and it will hurt. boys were told sperm meets egg and that's a baby. all of this information was hidden within the normal religious spiel. abstinence was suggested.

    thankfully, this was all common knowledge to me bc my mom told me e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g concerning sex ed at a young age & she always answered my questions. i feel that i've always had a healthy perspective on sex bc of this.

  • Eliza Racle

    I never got sex education. The only time I heard the birds and the bees was after my second period. I also thought that I caught a disease or was dying, not having a normal body function. My mom also just told me the bare minimum so after I searched on the internet to learn more about periods.

  • Mary Light

    If a KID (/pre/teen) is too immature to use birth control then they’re way too immature to have a baby & deal with the harsh responsibilities & emotional weight of that.

    It’s just safer to teach them masterbation, birth control & give them some basic items for it (Deodorant, Tampons, Condoms, etc)

  • Lazy Mochi

    I honestly think that parents should choose if they should teach their kids sex Ed because, it’s important for teens to understand that because sadly, many people don’t even know that you need protection

  • Zain Hodges

    I challenge anybody to Research Kindsey report. Government hired and funded a crazy man to exploite and experiment with children. He set the standard of sex ed in our school. His headquarters was at a college that still stands today. I dare you to dig deep.

  • jaxson hansen

    I learnd everything I know about puberty from school because my mom was uncofertable talking about it so she didnt. In a christian household I am expected to not have sex but my mom has told me (in our one veary short talk) that if i want birth control She will take me to get it. that is literaly all my mom has talked with me about it.

  • Aubrey Shelley

    School is where you go to learn stuff. Sex is stuff soooooooo learn about it.. like it's not that complex.

  • Shufei

    Giggling? As someone who was fascinated by reproduction from a very early age, the “embarrassment” many people face their children with when discussing sex just seems frustratingly dull to me. If a kid asks how babies are made, just bloody tell them. Yeesh.

  • ybmagpye

    HAHAHAA! Sometimes I wonder if I watch this as much for what cool stuff the host wears & what's in the globe, as for the historical content.

  • Richard Jackson

    'm sorry, but there is nothing wrong with a parent choosing when to teach and nurture their children to be prepared for the practice and subject of sex, whether they are religious or not and to say there is, is to deprive children of what should be a human right of developing a natural strong and close bond, understanding and nurturing from from their mother and father. It is like saying you no longer think a parent deciding when their child should be taught to bathe themselves, learn to speak, learn to to eat, learn to use the toilet and much else that is natural and bonds families as they teach and nurture their children on these matters should be put in the hands of schools. People gain their most powerful lessons that lead to them learning about sex and the family from their families and parents or relationships their single parents have by observation as nature intends for them and other life forms to learn. Attacking religion for insisting a healthy process of nature for children and the family is not disrupted is lain wrong and dangerous. There is nothing we have made to replace nature that has ever compared to what nature has delivered for us naturally. What is shocking is that government school policies are being implemented to disrupt this natural process, encouraging children to grow up to no longer understand that the purpose of sex is to create children. To no longer understand that the reason one has sexual urges is that there body is getting ready to produce children. These truths should be common sense and the very pillars of learning about sex, and are what children are taught through natural process of the relation ships with their parents and yet those who fight for children's rights to maintain these learning through natural process are being ridiculed as bigots, backward or un-progressive. It's as stupid as ridiculing a parent for teaching their child natural foods are more healthy for them than chocolates, cakes and crisps and telling parents the school will teach the child from the age of 4 or 5 crisps are more healthy than natural foods so a fat child is not bullied and does not feel terrible being fat. It all makes no sense. The most important thing is we teach children to love and respect their brothers and sisters no matter what to stop bullying and if they do we have failed. Children need not be stripped of their rights to naturing and learning about natural life from their parents and family which bonds them closer and raises their sense of trust and understanding of family love and life. The idea human beings learning most about the relationships that create and build loving homes for children from their parents can be replaced by schools is a fraudulent disgrace that like feeding children cakes everyday will have natural long term repercussions on our societies. Sexual relationships are taught by nature first through a child observation of their parents as is the case with other human life and this process of natural learning is being threatened by schools teaching children things that disrupt nature's process that intends to teach prepare children for the understanding that children and families are produced by having sex and the purpose of sex is to produce children. The fact we choose to practice sex for other objectives should never let us or our children stop understanding what sex really is for or we are a less intelligent being. Peace and love

  • Andrew Merk

    Idk how i never heard of you before. you are such a good host for this show. pbs as always another quality well reasearched edutainment series. Hats off

  • Caroline

    I remember when the whole Dr. Elders thing happened. I was in one of my last years of sex ed (where I went to school you didn't take it past 9th grade) and my teacher focused on the (safe) sex part of sex ed. But then that happened, and people got upset, so the school district went around checking up on the classes being taught, and apparently my teacher faked teaching Abstinence Education really well, because our class ended up bring profiled by Nightline regarding the 'new' focus on abstinence in schools. And by the time I took biology there was the choice (opt-out) to learn about the human body, all stemming from the early 1990s.

  • Small Kitten

    My school actually focused a lot of making sure we knew everything about sex from mentally, diseases, pregnancy, contraception, and even the type of birth control, healthy relationships, and even how not to be petty when breaking up.

  • Daniel Fernando Galindo Cañon

    I have a huge problem with you asking “if schools should be in the business of teaching sexual education”. You asking that shows just how much you “americans” think of everything as a business, a structure in which to make monetary profits. Academic and social education is not to be a business. It is a right that children have, and they do have the right to know about their bodies and their options.

  • Martyn Cook

    I believe that research has proven that comprehensive sex education (so not abstinence focused) lowers the numbers of STDs and unwanted pregnancies.
    (Young) people have the right to information that benefits their health and overall well-being.
    I believe the primary task of providing that information should be the parents/care givers, but because some won't do so, I believe it's the governments responsibility to provide it.

  • John Thomson

    I remember taking sex ed in the seventh grade along with the DARE program. The banana condom demonstration. The graphic depictions of venereal diseases. And the last weekend before summer they made us partner up and take care of this creepily lifelike doll with a keyhole in its back. Pretty hi tech for the time, it had sensors in it to detect if it had been dropped or hit and would cry randomly throughout the weekend. You had to hold a turnkey in its back to keep it quiet. The night it was my turn to take care of it, the damned thing cried for eleven hours and I fell asleep holding the key in its back.

  • Trendy Artist

    The school system goes about it the wrong way. Children should be taught to follow the examples of birds who build their nests BEFORE laying eggs. They should be taught about the value of human life and the need to prepare for it long before having sex and engaging in reproduction. Not passing out breakable condoms to encourage premarital sex before making a home. Teach the children common sense that feathered fowl apparently have (intuition). Build first , reproduce after. It can be done.

  • Mark Tudor

    Health education (physical and psychological – sex included) is still lacking tremendously at home as well as in schools in the south. I’m limiting myself to this area because this is where I moved and still live for more that 20 years now. Why do I say that? Y’all know why. But I’m not going to say the obvious. I hate the subject as much as I hate politics.

    US still has a long way to reach that level of mass education . But there is no money nor money making in that. Only the idiot can be exploited and the “for profit” knows that full well. So: good luck! 👍🏻

  • Lynn

    A couple things that get overlooked with these issues (in my opinion):
    Hygiene and other sexual health needs of each gender (aside from intercourse), think period care for example.
    And in the case of abstinence until marriage, what after marriage? It just pushes the ball down the field, not dealing with the actual issue. What to expect and how to be healthy when sexually active. Those issues exist weather you are in a monogamous marriage or not.
    And remember, these are things that are new, awkward and embarrassing for teenagers to talk about. And with social taboos, wanting to ask questions they might have is that much more difficult.
    I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and am all for abstinence until marriage. But I am also very aware how that vast majority of the world is not. But that’s the issue, when educating the masses, you have to take in to consideration the needs of everyone, not just those screaming the loudest.

  • Anonymous Post

    I think Communists, unions, foreigners,etc. have infiltrated our schools to teach out children the communist doctrine that says if they can brainwash and indoctrinate one generation, they can change and hijack our great country, steal our freedom and liberty and destroy us. Religion, sex education, politics, etc. have no place in our schools, that's the parents job. We have handed over our children to the schools, government,etc. and we see how that's going! Wake up parents!

  • Jennie Sapherson

    Here in England during the 60’s and 70’s there was nothing taught at school the general consensus was Doctors had to cut the baby out.

  • Limey

    My mom is a retired RN who worked in labor and delivery. When she had an eleven year old girl come in, in labor, that was about the time she 100% that YES, sex ed should be taught in schools! She always signed me up for the courses, and I had my first official class in school on the topic at age 10. She also bought me books and taught me quite a bit on her own time.

    Because G*d forbid she EVER have a child giving birth to a child in her assigned rooms again.

  • Rosie Powell

    They limit Black History to one month , and doin’t want to teach it anyway ! They doin’t want prayer in school . But they push sex education like Hell !

  • Kitty Kat

    I mean you'd think the conservatives would have learned….telling them not to have sex doesn't work…it's better to teach them to have safe sex :p

  • EozTheNew

    The same backlash against sex ed still persists today, where in 2019 there is an ongoing protest at a school in Birmingham over the inclusion of LGBT relationships in lessons as an attempt to tackle homophobic attitudes. The same arguments have cropped up, about leaving it up to the parents, and about not wanting to expose children to so much sexuality at such a young age (even though by the time they reach Primary school they have already seen countless heterosexual couples on the street and on TV).

    To be clear, the lessons do not focus on the sex side of LGBT, but instead are all about the social context: that some children will have two mothers or two fathers, that sometimes you'll see two boys or two girls holding hands, etc. So it isn't so much that they're being taught about sex, but rather they're learning about the society in which they live, and that seeing an LGBT couple should not be any more unusual than seeing a straight couple.

  • joyousorrow

    Teachers can now be informed and taught how to approach it.. thanks to both mordern day biology/life science teaching and health class (whether you may learn about drugs and it's history… and of course sex, stds/stis, rape, consent, etc.) but yet due to the USA being held in between religious morals (most religions if anything.. there may be some that aren't too offended by it.. I think Paganism was one.. but i forget >x<) and the country's future and the ones who will be the ones making the future happen (chldren, preteens, teens, & young legal adults). I found an article about a year or 2 ago that made me and my friends had to read.. The article was about parents/adults in the US were questioning about why many European countries and Japan had the brain cells to think sex education should be taught starting at 5.. unfortunatel not many of my friends ever remembered asking "where do babies come from" or "why does [he/she] doesn't have what i have?" (if referring to a friend, a sibling, or a cousin their age for a few examples who are the opposite gender). And I think the article reported that adults either said they never did whether or not they truly didn't, didn't think they did/didn't remember at all, or were in complete utter denial (even though they know/remembered they did.. and jsut lied). But they then were wondering how their teen pregnancy in those specific European Countries countries and Japan was little to none at all… when they are taught all of this starting from kindergarten..My friends were wondering the same thing.. but then I said "I don't know.. but i think they know more and 100% correct information about condoms, masturbation, and birth control… versus religious facts/morals to it or to maybe just not enough to none at all."
    Makes sense doesn't it, right?

    ((making the following below the last thing since i edited this comment with adding the above))
     
    P.S. Also I had the book "Where did I come from" OwO I was 4 (almost 5) and it was at the time my parents annouced that there will be a new baby soon in our home.. making my older brother now the oldest of 2 kids and making me not only a younger sister but also an older sister. Funny enough is years ago while my sister (she was 20 and I was 25… this year I turned 30 and she recently turned 25 earlier the current month (July… when the video came out I turned 30 6 days before this video upload) we were cleaning out the basement and we found this book.. she literally asked "when did we get this book" and i answered simpling with "while you were still in 'mommy's tummy.'" Of course she gave me a weird look but then she got why we had it and she looked at it and got it was child friendly picture book of reproducing. I think we still have the book somewhere at my mom's house.. but if not… I'm grateful we did (also i do know of the books; just for boys, just for girls, it's not the stork, & how babies are made.. even though we didn't have those books.. i was familiar with seeing them growing up).

  • Maddie Joy

    My high school taught comprehensive sex education. We learned about all types of birth control, even some that aren't on the market any more (like sponges). They stressed that abstinence was the only method that was 100% effective, but urged us to get contraception if we decided not to abstain. I'm an adult and still know more about sex that many of my more sexually experienced peers because of that class.

  • Buddy boy

    Umm no your wrong a 16 year old can legally drop out. And your a liberal so let's not teach sex ed just let all the kids have as much sex as possible!!

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