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!