The second approach to our deliberation considers the social stigmas placed on sex and sexuality in the United States. We want to talk about how abstinence only curriculums promote double gender standards and misconceptions about intimacy. We started doing research on how social stigmas are created in our current sex ed curriculums and began looking at what changes we wanted to see in the United States.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information has a great article that discusses social stigmas created by our current sex education situation. The piece delves into the issue of abstinence only curricula, which tend to create the misconception that STDs and other negative health problems are caused by sexual promiscuity. This is not accurate, and the article suggests we combat that stigma with a more relaxed view of sex and sexuality. We should promote sexual health regardless of what kind of sex people are having, and inform our students on the myriad of ways STDs can actually be spread.
The Center for American Progress also made an argument regarding stigmas in sex ed. The article explains that LGBTQA students are often at a severe disadvantage, because schools do not provide sex ed programs that are inclusive of all sexualities. The piece suggests creating a more comprehensive K-12 curriculum that would encourage students to ask questions and maintain their sexual health.
I was surprised at how much research has been done regarding sex ed and social stigmas – I would have thought that their findings, which clearly indicate a problem in our society, would lead to action creating a more inclusive and comprehensive curriculum. The lack of appropriate sex ed programs for students has created a cultural problem with stigmas that affect each and every one of us – children, teens, and adults alike. We need to address the issue of abstinence only sex ed curriculums and face the taboo our society has put on sexuality – let’s talk about sex baby.
“LGBT-Inclusive Sex Education Means Healthier Youth and Safer Schools.” Center for American Progress, 28 June 2013, www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2013/06/21/67411/lgbt-inclusive-sex-education-means-healthier-youth-and-safer-schools/.
“Sexual Health Training and Education in the U.S.” PubMed Central (PMC), Mar. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3562751/.
Our group has decided to discuss sex ed for our deliberation this month.
We believe that this is a subject that is usually considered taboo do discuss in public, and that is exactly why we need to bring it to the deliberation table. We know that some states in the US require sexual education for middle and high school aged students, but we also know, partially from our own experiences, that our current sex ed system is certainly not proactive about teaching safe sex practices, but in many cases actively harming adolescents.
We discovered that many students reach college without knowing how to properly use condoms, and are uninformed about the risks and consequences of STDs and sexual harassment. Our group wants to meet with members of the State College community to figure out what the pros and cons are of our current system, and to discuss potential ways to create a more comprehensive and inclusive sexual education curriculum in the United States.
We have broken our deliberation into 3 approaches to cover three different aspects of the sex ed conversation – first, the medical misconceptions regarding birth control and vaccinations, followed by a look at the social stigmas associated with sex and human functions, and finally the effect of sex ed on harassment and rape in our culture.
My role in our deliberation is to tackle our second approach: Social Stigma. Our sub team is working to find out how our current sex ed curricula promote unhealthy patterns including homophobia, period shaming, and double standards for sexual behavior between genders. So far we have found that LGBTQA students are far more likely to get STDs and be uncomfortable seeking answers to their questions regarding sexual health because sex ed is taught from a strictly heterosexual perspective (read the Center for American Progress’ article ). We also found that most American girls grow up with the idea that menstruation is a dirty function, and that “men don’t like to hear about it.”
We will be continuing our research and developing several key questions to put in our deliberation packet. We hope to spark conversation on campus and in State College about sex ed, and how it desperately needs new regulation. We want to point out that the way students learn about sex, sexual health, and respect for intimate partners is incredibly important, and our country would benefit from enhancing our sex ed curricula – let’s talk about sex ed baby!