Let’s talk about “it”

Lily Hanafin, Opinions Editor

Sex education has been a controversial subject dating back to its implementation in the early 20th century. Since that time, only 24 states have required sex education courses. Illinois is not one one of them. 

This lack of education in schools has resulted in numerous health consequences. For example, the CDC estimates that one in five Americans have a sexually transmitted disease, and around 50% of all STD cases were from the age group of 15-24. In 2019, the United States had a total of 171,674 babies born from women aged 15-19, according to the CDC. These statistics won’t get any better unless proper sex education is taught in every United States school.

While LT does teach sex education, the information doesn’t go far enough. LT’s sex education curriculum is supposed to cover topics ranging from planned parenthood to abortions; however, I, along with the majority of other LT students, can attest that these topics were never covered in class (half of LT’s current seniors health class was cut short due to COVID-19). Having these topics in the curriculum guide is a step in the right direction, but if the teachers aren’t teaching these topics to the students, then it doesn’t even matter that it was in the curriculum. 

In order to ensure that every LT student learns the required course material, a slideshow should be made that covers every sex education topic and requires teachers to teach directly from the slideshow. This small change guarantees every student a quality sex education class.

When I was in health, I was shocked to see how the class stigmatized sex and birth control. On a slideshow shown to the class, it stated that students should remain celibate because “it avoids shame.” I don’t see how it’s acceptable for the school to teach that sexual relationships should make people feel ashamed of themselves. 

Furthermore, when we learned about birth control pills, we weren’t taught about its effectiveness at helping women with there periods, or how wider accessibility to this birth control method would cause a decrease in unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Instead of learning about the effects of birth control pills or where students can get affordable prescriptions, we were told that birth control pills should “only be used when you are in a long, happy relationship.” Not only does this statement discourage one of the most effective forms of birth control, but it also shames the many high school girls in the class who are on the pill for health or birth control reasons. 

Abstinence was covered over the course of many classes, while the many forms of birth control were quickly glossed over. It’s true that abstinence is the only thing that is 100% effective at preventing pregnancies and STDs; however, that being said, we shouldn’t have spent multiple classes learning about celibacy. It has been proven time and time again that preaching celibacy does not stop students from having sex or from getting pregnant. In fact, students that receive proper sex education are empowered to make safer, healthier choices. The school needs to teach students about safe sex, instead of pretending that teaching abstinence will stop sexual relationships.

To help students at school, the nurses’ offices at LT should start providing free condoms to students and health pamphlets from local clinics. It would also be beneficial to have a page on the LTHS website that provides sex education information and resources to students on where to go if they need STD, pregnancy or birth control help.

Sex education cannot continue to be politicized or treated as a taboo subject. Students deserve a safe environment to learn how to make informed decisions regarding sex throughout their lives.