The Controversy of Sex Education


Many sorts of protection can be used to prevent STD transmission and pregnancy. Credit: Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition on Unsplash

Kate Stout, Editor In Chief

The role of schools in educating students about sexual health is a source of huge debate. While some recommend comprehensive sex education, some remain unconvinced.

“In school, I was only ever told the science behind sex, reproduction and how it happens. In 7th grade, we were told the sperm reaches the egg and then an organism is impregnated,” Junior Aylea Treston shared. “We were never taught about the correct contraceptives or about safe sex in general.”

Many students – like Treston – learn only the biological aspects of sex. This is something she disagrees with.

“Even when schools require a sex ed class, they usually focus on the consequences of sex/relationships rather than the objective information that will genuinely help their student’s futures,” Treston said. “I believe that true sex ed is avoided because of its stigmatized nature, religion, or old-fashioned thinking.”

Senior Malikai Smith feels that he did learn everything that he felt was needed in his HOPE – or Health Opportunities through Physical Education – class which is a required class for most high schoolers. Smith does not feel, though, that he has been taught everything he needs to know.

“I really think they should have covered what to do if in the case a teen pregnancy were to occur. That should have been discussed just in case that matters,” Smith explained.

Smith definitely agrees with the idea of pushing for safe sexual behavior and how to have sex safely rather than simply discussing the negatives of sexual behaviors.

“I personally think that they should be pushing safe sex. Because, really, if everybody knew the risk and the concerns of having unprotected sex, it would help teenagers really understand what it really means to have sex,” Smith said.

One of the biggest divides in sex education is whether schools are overstepping a boundary by talking about something so traditionally private. Some people are uncomfortable with teaching students – who are usually under the age of consent – about sex because they fear it encourages sexual behaviors.

“So, I think it’s basically telling me how to have (sex), how to do it, and how to do it safely. So, by teaching them, you are encouraging (students) to do it in a way,” Lopez stated.

However, Lopez did not necessarily think that it was bad to encourage students to have sex underage. He considered it be a natural thing for students to have and learn about. Potter struggled to find any cons with sex education.

“To be honest I do not really think there can be cons of sex (education). I can see parents maybe getting upset at the schools that teach it for opening up their child’s mind to sex at a young age,” Potter said. “Although I would have to disagree with them, I think it is important to know about sex at a young age.”

Treston very much agreed and felt it was the school’s responsibility.

“I believe it should be the school’s responsibility to teach sex ed. Some families are unhealthy, their children are not comfortable enough with their parents to have a proper discussion about sex,” Treston explained. “Some parents will only educate their children about sex when they are teaching about abstinence. Schools should have a set lesson plan that is inclusive, formal, and respectful.”

Treston and Potter both want a more inclusive sex education class, especially for students that are not having heterosexual sex. Their definition of inclusion involves teaching about different kinds of sex for different sexualities, which the CDC also pushes for.

“For me, specifically, my sex ed class has no LGBT representation. It made me upset because so many young people are struggling identifying themselves and if they wanted to learn more about it, they cannot,” Potter explained. “They have to go to school and learn about sex, but it may not be useful to them. What I think school should start doing is, instead of just teaching about male and female intercourse, they can teach about male and male and female and female.”

Students, including Potter, that do not feel they are being represented in the sexual health curriculum are not receiving the information they need to make informed decisions about sex at the same level their heterosexual peers are.

“It should not be considered a taboo to educate older students about sex that is not between a man and a woman,” Treston said. “Schools can be more inclusive by teaching about hetero and homosexual sex, and they should not teach it in any different tone. They should both be treated normal and natural, because they are.”

Overall, sex education in Florida does not cover everything students may need to know as sexually active adults, but it is an attempt at balancing more conservative viewpoints about sex and sexual health education while bearing in mind the benefits of having some form of a sex education class in schools.