If you are reading this—and we hope this does not come as a shock—you are the product of a sexual act.
(Okay, it’s true that the federal government reports 1.6 percent of all children born today are here through “assisted reproductive technology,” but you get our point.)
Yet as a society we have a very hard time talking about sex. More specifically, we have a very hard time delivering sex education.
Much to our chagrin, the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System corporate headquarter is located in a state that does not require sexual education in school. The state leaves it up to every school district to decide on its own.
Colorado is not alone.
Only 24 states (and Washington, D.C.) require sex education. And, of those 24 states, only 10 require that the information being taught is medically accurate. (Map here.)
We find this discouraging, to say the least.
Where do we start?
First, there is the case for lowering the teen birth rate. In the United States, while the numbers have dropped dramatically, the teenage birth rate is 26.6 births per 1,000 teenage girls and young women.
In the Netherlands, where age-appropriate sexual education begins in kindergarten, the birth rate is 5 per 1,000.
The benefits of comprehensive sex education are many—and should be obvious.
“Studies have demonstrated that comprehensive sexuality education programs reduce the rates of sexual activity, sexual risk behaviors (eg, number of partners and unprotected intercourse), sexually transmitted infections, and adolescent pregnancy,” concluded the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2018.
There’s also the issue of teaching consent—and helping reduce sexual assaults and rape. The more we teach consent and help educate everyone about the importance of communication and respect, the better.
It’s common sense, right?
A recent New York Times story reported that the nation’s elementary and secondary schools are often lacking any rules for dealing with sexual misconduct. The U.S. Department of Education, at the time the story was published last May, was investigating 279 cases of alleged violations of Title IX in elementary and high schools related to sexual harassment and violence. (Title IX is the federal law designed to prevent sexual discrimination.)
Certainly arming students with information about their bodies—and about the rules of consent—would go a long to improve the culture in the very schools that are supposed to be helping students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to advocate for themselves and navigate the world beyond school.
In short, students will be less likely to disclose inappropriate contact without the appropriate terms and understanding to describe what happened.
We wish there was a law requiring age-appropriate sexual education instruction in public schools.
We wish there wasn’t fear around teaching and learning the reproductive system and how it works.