What Is #SexEdForAll Month?
Authored by Rena Dixon, PhD, MPH, MCHES
Director of Health Services
Are you wondering why we aren’t talking about teen pregnancy prevention month? Not to worry, it’s simple and I’ll explain it to you!
Why Sex Ed for All Month? It’s simple really. Sex Education is more than risk reduction and disease prevention. When I first started working in the field of sexual and reproductive health, all we knew was that we needed to educate young people what the risks were about having unprotected sex. Over the years the conversation has evolved to show that sex ed is more than telling young people to abstinent or how to put a condom on. Sex Ed is more than teen pregnancy prevention and we should be advocating for all the things that it encompasses.
How many of you remember the sex education you received in school? Did you think it was enough? Did it prepare you for when you went out into the world to spread your wings? Many young people don’t receive sex education in schools, but we know that it’s just as important as math, reading, or social studies. Can we also talk about how sex ed has been relegated to one lesson in school that youth barely remember if they even receive it at all? Through all the ups and downs of how the discussion about sex ed has changed over the years, a few things remain true.
Young people still need education about how their bodies work, how to prevent disease and pregnancy if they choose, how to navigate relationships, and how and where to access healthcare services when they become sexually active.
No matter what side of the argument you are on, the common ground is that we all want young people to live happy and healthy lives and one of the best ways to set them on that path is by providing age-appropriate sex ed. Research shows young people who received medically accurate, comprehensive sex education become healthier and more successful adults. The facts are, sex education helps young people develop social and emotional skills as well as lays the foundation for young people around topics such as healthy relationships, consent, preventing child abuse, an appreciation of sexual diversity, dating and intimate partner violence prevention, and increased media literacy.
What can you do for the young people in your life? Talk to young people and ask them what they are learning in school. Laws and implementation of sex education in schools vary from state to state as well as school district to district. Ask young people did they like what they learned and if they need more information or resources. Also, take steps to find out who is deciding on the sex education curriculum in schools. In South Carolina, the CHEA committee should be meeting in every school district. If you want to advocate for a medically accurate and comprehensive sex education curriculum in your schools, contact your local and state-level representatives. Not ready to have the conversation just yet? Check out the Fact Forward website for tips on how to engage young people in the discussion about love, sex, and relationships.