Katelyn Mitchell | Staff Writer
When I was a kid, I was never given the dreaded “talk.” Whether this was because my mother had been a hard-core Baptist, my parents were uncomfortable or they did not believe that it was the right time, I do not know. My first exposure to the sexual education talk came at the end of my fifth grade year where they split up the boys and the girls, put on a scratchy, poorly animated movie, and expected us to soak up all of the knowledge.
This theme followed me throughout my public school years up until eighth grade. When I questioned why sexual education stopped at the peak of teenage hormone years, my science teacher said, “If you and I need to have this conversation, then I believe that we have bigger issues that need to be addressed.”
At the age of 16, I know more teenagers who are out having sex than I would like to admit. One could blame the increase in sexual activity in teenagers on the hormones that are running through the body and the excitement of having a romantic partner Yes, middle school and the high school health classes talk about birth control and condoms, but it is only touched on briefly while abstinence is stressed to the point no one bothers to listen.
I understand that the state and school both regulate what gets taught at the school. The Indiana State Standards state that “sexual education” should be taught as a comprehensive health education. While this is good in theory, in reality it is a poorly planned idea. Health education is an umbrella term, meaning that it is a main subject that has minor subjects written into it. Yes, the health education class talked a little about STDs, condoms, birth control, exams for both men and women, as well as abstinence, but it also speaks about diet, exercise, smoking, respiratory systems, digestive systems, etc. You cannot call a small sub-unit “comprehensive.” In fact, it is anything but.
Also according to state standards, “Indiana law does state that when sexuality education is taught, abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage must be stressed. Instruction must teach that abstinence outside of marriage and a mutually monogamous relationship inside of marriage are the best ways to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems. (IC 20-10.1-4-11)” Again, this idea is good in a perfect world where everyone does what they are told, but in reality, it is a complete bust. Telling teenagers to stop having sex is not going to prevent them from having sex.
Regarding the school, Mr. Williamson, dean of students, says that the administration has been talking about having an optional forum after school to talk about teenage issues- such as sexual education, dating abuse, drugs and alcohol, etc. With the forum not being mandatory, parents should not feel like they are being attacked about their personal opinions. I feel like incorporating a forum like this is a tremendous step forward. In this situation, teenagers are getting factual, well-researched sexual education and their parents can make the decision whether or not they want to send their child to the forum.
All in all, sex education is crucial for teenagers. We are becoming young adults and are going to be exposed to a myriad of situations. Knowledge of sex should be as equally important as knowing how to file taxes, pay bills, buy a house, budget, etc; not a taboo subject that is shoved onto the backburner. We need the education and truth.