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The birds and the bees

Senior reflects on her experience with sex education
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Many+schools+no+longer+offer+sex+education+classes+to+their+students.+This+proves+as+a+controversial+topic+to+the+public.+
Kristina Colburn
Many schools no longer offer sex education classes to their students. This proves as a controversial topic to the public.

For as long as I have lived, I have known sex to be bad. Sinful. Taboo. Inherently wrong. Living in a conservative southern town, rooted deep in the doctrines of Christianity, I grew up around the notion that sex shouldn’t be thought about, talked about or engaged in. 

This stigma surrounding sex is harmful to kids whose parents share the same negative attitude about it. For the adolescents who are maturing rapidly, discovering and exploring their growing bodies, they need a trusted adult who can give them information regarding sex and relationships. 

Without an adviser, these pre-teens and teens will find other sources to educate them on the subject. The people who they trust to advise them may be untrustworthy and give them harmful advice. Because teenagers are more likely to be negatively affected by conducting their own research on sex, I feel that high schools should mandate a sexual education class for all seniors. 

As of Oct. 2020, only 30 states and the District of Columbia require schools to teach sexual education to their students. All states offer some form of sexual education in the health science curriculum, but they do not mandate that their students take a sex-ed class. Specifically in Texas, The Texas Education Code in Section 28.004 states that sex education content, if taught, must place emphasis on abstinence as both the safest and most favored practice. Texas schools are not required to offer a sex education class in schools, but they must teach the Health Education TEKS at both the elementary and middle school levels.

However, at the high school level, there is a lack of this curriculum. These conversations regarding sexual education that happen at the elementary and middle school levels are so brief that students are likely to forget about them within a year. To say that those short conversations will suffice until high school, let alone adulthood, is dangerous for students.

From my own academic experience, the surface of sex education was briefly grazed in my eighth grade science class. My teacher quickly told us what the reproductive system was, its parts and placed emphasis on the fact that sex was nothing special, “just science,” as she would describe.

Reflecting on my experience, I am thankful that I had parents who were comfortable enough to educate me on the subject. However, not every child is granted this opportunity.

A high school-level sex education class should cover a wide range of topics. There should be discussions of topics like reproductive health, birth control and sexually transmitted infection prevention. Gender identity, healthy and unhealthy relationships and body image should also be a major objective in these classes. The class should be taught by a trained educator with an extensive background in biology, as well as a deep understanding of psychology and sociology. 

A sex education class should be a safe space for teens to gain insight on their bodies as they transition into adulthood. They should be given the opportunity to learn about these ideas before leaving the care of their parents and entering the real world.

Truly, I think sexual education should begin at the freshman level, ages 14 to 15, because most students are maturing and going through puberty; questions concerning physical and emotional changes are arising and need to be addressed. However, this idea is unrealistic because some adults still consider freshmen to be too young to learn about sex. Unfortunately, a mandated high school sex education class in the south is highly improbable because many parents either do not want their child to know about sex, or they do not want another person to educate their child on sex.

Most parents fear that if their child is taught about sex then they will begin to engage in sexual behaviors. However, this is a widely held fallacy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists conducted a study in 2016 on the effects of sexual education and found that sexual education classes and programs reduced the rates of sexual activity and behaviors.

In addition, sexual education classes have been shown to help reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies. In 2022, New York University researchers found that federally funded sex education programs lowered teen pregnancy rates by 3% from the years 1996 to 2016.

With access to a comprehensive sexual education class based upon medically-accurate facts and an age-appropriate curriculum, teenagers will receive massive benefits that positively affect their outlook on sex and sexuality and their romantic relationships for the long term.

I find it alarming that students are forced to take classes like chemistry and obtain an extensive mathematical background, that the average person will never use past secondary education, but students are not made to learn about sex education, something that can change lives, for the better or for the worse.

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About the Contributors
Kamryn Jean
Kamryn Jean, Opinion Editor
As a senior and third-year member of publications, Kamryn Jean is excited to be the Opinion Editor. If she’s not at dance practice or reading an assignment for one of her classes, you can find her lost in a song. Jean is a dancer both in and outside of school. She is the Senior Captain for the Texas HighSteppers and a member of Joni’s Elite Dance Team. She is currently preparing herself for college, and plans to get involved in even more activities in school.

Kristina Colburn
Kristina Colburn, Assignments Editor

Kristina Colburn is currently the Photo Assignments Editor for THS Publications. She is also a member of National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Key Club, AP Ambassadors, HOSA, Model UN and the Multicultural Club. In her spare time, Kristina likes to relax and listen to music, shop online, thrift and occasionally pick up a book. In addition, she likes to travel. She has been to France and Spain, and is hoping she can travel more in the upcoming years. In the future, Kristina aims to major in Criminal Justice at the University of North Texas or Anthropology at Baylor University.

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