The deliberation I attended was entitled “The Birds, The Bees, Reducing STD’s: Let’s Talk About Sex[ual Health].” The group led a discussion on different ways to encourage sexual health among the population. The three approaches they looked into were improving sex education, changing legislation surrounding prostitution, and rethinking the current healthcare system.
The deliberation team was able to present well and generate good audience discussion. The audience was completely comprised of students, although there were only about ten of us so there may have been a slight lack in diverse viewpoints. After the deliberation, it was the conclusion of nearly everyone that while all three approaches had good merit, the root of each one was better education. The group seemed to gravitate towards the idea that better sex education was the best way to improve sexual health.
Pretty much everyone in the group agreed that we need better options when it comes to sex ed, however there were some differences in opinion on how exactly to go about it. One of the main reasons for this that I found interesting was the apparent inability of many Americans to differentiate between comprehensive sexual education and promoting sex. Many people see any attempt at teaching kids about sexual health as encouraging them to have sex, a viewpoint that is extremely detrimental to any productive discussion that one may seek to have. The group seemed to recognize that this was a big problem and it created a sort of division among opinions. One side felt that although this view was wrong it should be considered when designing different sex ed programs, while the other felt that they should sort of “steamroll” over people who thought like this in favor of giving kids the best possible education.
The other division in how to approach sex ed stemmed from whether it should be optional or not. This viewpoint considered the notion that comprehensive sex ed courses should be available but optional dependent on the desires of the parents. This created a fissure within the deliberation group as well. On one hand, some students argued that the parents should be allowed to decide whether their child receives an education on sexual health in school or at home, which would allow them to instill their personal values within their children. On the other hand, some students believed that sex ed was too important to make it optional.
This view also stemmed from the discussion surrounding our personal sex ed experiences. Through the deliberation we came to realize the true range of sex ed programs throughout the country or even just Pennsylvania. Because everyone is coming to college with drastically different levels of understanding sexual health, a good portion of the audience came to the conclusion that there needs to be some baseline for sex ed programs in grade-schools. They believed that by setting a standard for the education they could improve many of the problems currently associated with the lack of knowledge, like STDs/STIs for example. They also argued that this would dismantle the taboo surrounding the subject currently, which would allow for the problems to be addressed more directly without the fear of offending people with the way in which they talk about it.
Through the rest of the discussion, we all came to realize that the other two approaches were essentially a more convoluted or roundabout way of tackling sexual education. So, although there was some disagreement in exactly how to do it, everybody came to the general conclusion that best way to improve sexual health was through improved sexual education.I wish were able to spend more time discussing the best ways to implement it, however I thought the deliberation went very well and I am glad to say that I came out of it with some new perspective on the issue.