A safer sex ed

Teaching sexual education proves to have good results


Photo by Cameron Murry

Birth control is one of many aspects that is not covered in abstinence-only education. According to Planned Parenthood, only 18 states have legislation that require educators to share information about birth control.

Story by Cameron Murry, staff writer

A look around shows a large room as middle schoolers and high schoolers gather and peer at a small screen showing the dangers of sex, condoms and birth control. Many students blush, sweat or giggle under their breath as the sex education professional warns of how not adhering to abstinence will have life-altering consequences.

This scenario was the reality when the majority of today’s adults in their twenties went through a sexual education class. Now, however, today’s students in Texas and many other states are missing out on this vital information and necessary part of education.

Many students question their sexuality and how sexuality works. Students are aware of teen pregnancy, but some are still unsure of how it can happen. Texas schools are not permitted to teach sex education, just abstinence.

Without schools being allowed to teach this subject, the task is left to parents, who often fall short of explaining sexual health. Sometimes, parents that care about protecting their children’s sexuality and innocence have a hard time discussing sexual intercourse. If teachers are given this task, it is often much easier for them to explain the information needed. Without that personal bond of parent and child, the awkwardness of these boundaries disappears.

Former principal, Brad Bailey, confirmed that the state does not fund schools in any way to teach sexual or abstinence education to students.

We do not have a specific course that teaches abstinence but we do have a program in the fall with First Choice,” Bailey said. “We have permission forms signed by parents for ninth grade students to attend and receive information on sex education, abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases, [and other related subjects]. We have a session for boys and a session for girls. The service is free so there are no funding issues.”

The idea of abstinence is rooted in Christian moral values and biblical belief.

As a Christian organization, we believe that abstinence outside of marriage is biblical.”

— Kristie Wright

“As a Christian organization, we believe that abstinence outside of marriage is biblical,” Executive Director at Texarkana’s First Choice Pregnancy Center, Kristie Wright said. “It is also the only method that will fully protect a student’s heart, mind and body.  We believe that students should be educated about the risks that come with sex and how to avoid them.”

There are many dangers when it comes to having sex. Without proper knowledge, students could run into many problems.

“Unplanned pregnancy is not the only possible result,” Wright said. “Sexually transmitted diseases and infections can have life-changing consequences and come with lifelong health issues.”

With sex, comes many emotional difficulties and frustrations. Teenagers are emotional enough without sex in the equation; adding it could only create more confusion.

“Sex is also an emotional act, and can affect the way people behave in future relationships,” Wright said. “Our bodies were actually designed to only have one partner.  There is no such thing as ‘safe sex’ and students should not be misled to believe that there is. While there are ways that the risk of STDs and pregnancy can be lowered, abstinence is the only way to fully avoid those things.”

Wright also advises people to look at sexual exposure charts, which take into account how many people you or your partner have been with and how that number affects you. The number of people your sexual partner has been involved with also impacts your sexual health.

However, these facts often fail to stop teens from having sex and being sexually active.

Despite the abstinence-only standard of sexual education in Texas, teen pregnancy rates have skyrocketed, making Texas the state with the fifth-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. Texas also has the highest rate of teen birth repeats, meaning that teen mothers in Texas have the highest chance of getting pregnant and having another baby after their first pregnancy. Students no longer have easy access to contraceptives or the education needed to prevent these things from happening.

Abstinence-only education does not acknowledge that students will become sexually active, while abstinence-plus education does acknowledge this. Many medical officials and organizations advocate that all states should teach sexually comprehensive education. This kind of teaching provides students with HIV and STD information, and how to prevent them from happening. While this form of sex education teaches abstinence and encourages not engaging in sexual activity prior to marriage, it also acknowledges that the majority of high school students will engage in sexual activity or intercourse while in high school.

SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, has found that abstinence-plus education has significantly greater effects on students than those only exposed to abstinence-only education.

Abstinence-plus doesn’t just teach about abstaining from sex. Students are also presented with the dangers of unprotected vaginal intercourse, how to use condoms properly and how to avoid HIV/AIDS. Of the 39 trials conducted with students taught abstinence-plus and a control group, 23 saw significant improvement in sexual practices or education.

ReCAPP, the Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, is a source for sexual education that has many lesson plans about sexual activity. The site has lesson plans that begin in middle school.

With so many resources and their results at hand, it would seem as though teaching the subject is easy. There are so many benefits that come with sex education being taught, some of them being lowered teen pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted diseases.

Although sex can be a tricky topic to teach, it often has beneficial results. Abstinence-plus education addresses sexual activity from a realistic point of view while pushing for abstinence at the same time.