Sex Education in Public Schools

Sex education has become a very important topic of discussion between parents and our school systems. How much information can be left to the teachers to educate our children on sex education in schools? What is the line that should not be crossed? At what age is appropriate for our youth to be taught these programs? These are some questions that our government and education system is trying to find a solution for. There are a couple of ways sex education can be taught in schools, one of them being an abstinence only program. An abstinence only program which is also referred to as sexual risk avoidance programs focuses on teaching kids that staying abstinence from sex until marriage is the only morally correct option they have. Also stating that it is the safest way to prevent unintended pregnancies and STIs. The other program is comprehensive sex education in which teaches kids safer sex practices including the different contraceptives that can be used. It also goes into detail about healthy relationships, human development, and communication skills that can relate back to that topic.

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The debate on whether we should enhance our school programs as the new generations are being exposed more through the internet is an important discussion that needs to be done. There is still a big disconnect on what is being taught to kids and what they are learning on their own by browsing the web. “A national sample study of 1,500 10 to 17-year-olds showed that about half of those that use the Internet had been exposed to online porn in the last year” stated by Sifferlin (1). That is why it has become vital to for parents to monitor what their children are getting their hands on through the web. It isn’t always necessary to overly prepare your children when parental control has become much easier to do. There are many different options parents have that don’t necessarily have to expose their kids to sexual content. Youtube has now launched a kids app, which their focal point is for the parents to stay in control and be able to monitor more efficiently what their kids watch. Having kid friendly ads/content and even having features where there is a timer on how much screen time the kids have on that app. Parents also have a feature where they can disable the search engine bar so that kids can’t have access to certain sites. Parents feel that it can be up to them how much exposure their child has and what age they feel is appropriate to learn about certain topics, one of them being sex education. Not every parent is as involved in their kids lives as others. Some may not monitor or keep an eye out on what their child is browsing through the internet but that doesn’t give the schools to expect that every child is being exposed to the same materials. Schools feel that children are being exposed to sexual content through the internet, tv, and music so they feel the need to take on the role to correctly educate the youth on sex education. According to Kesterton, “Similarly, just leaving it to the schools takes away the challenge and responsibility of parents to engage with this aspect of their children’s lives, and their physical and emotional development” (1). As our youth gets older, it may spark more of an interest in getting involved in sexual actions since they would be taught how to stay protected. “A recent survey from Planned Parenthood shows that 80% of parents are willing to have “the talk” with their kids, but in order for these conversations to have real meaning, parents need to understand just how much sexual exposure their kids are getting daily and how soon” stated Sifferlin (1). Many parents are willing to educate their kids on their own about sex. Every family is different, to some it may come easier but others struggle to have the “talk” with their child. They don’t want to feel as if they are condoning that behavior but at the same time they want their child to be aware of the consequences sex can bring.

As we mentioned earlier on the two different programs that can be taught in schools, many parents vote in not having comprehensive sex education as part of the curriculum. In 2012 when the Sexual Risk Avoidance Education program (SRAE) was established, Federal funding for this program bypassed state authority by granting funds directly to community organizations. According to the Kaiser Foundation, “In 2017, One-Third of Federal Funding for Teen Sexual Health Education Programs Was For Abstinence Education” (1). As president Trump took office there will be changes done in our sex education guidelines. “New rules require grantees to replicate one of two abstinence programs—one that follows a sexual risk avoidance model, and one that follows a sexual risk reduction model– in order to receive funding” (Kaiser foundation 1). With the Trump Administration new funding announcements it is no longer focusing on programs like comprehensive sex education. Advocates of comprehensive sex education say the abstinence-only message ignores information that can be critical for teens to protect their health but that they are not against the abstinence message itself.

Many that are against comprehensive sex education programs have to do with religious beliefs. Religion plays a big factor when it comes to sex education being taught in schools, many in which have different views on sexuality. In schools we have been taught not to talk about religion, our schools have adjusted the way we name big events in school to assure not to offend or exclude anyone with different beliefs. Parents feel the same should be done with sex education, that it shouldn’t be mandatory but optional if the family feels their child should partake in those programs. Many believe sex education classes in public schools overlook individual differences among children and can destroy the natural modesty of children. Children are taught different subjects in school like math, science, and reading but are given appropriate material according to their level of intelligence. That’s the problem that parents see in sex education, everyone is taught the same material even though some may not be psychologically or physically prepared to receive that type of teaching. According to Masland, “They argue there is a fundamental flaw in giving kids more information about risky behaviors that they should simply be taught to avoid” (1). One of the concerns that parents have is the uncertainty of what is being taught behind closed doors may not go with the values they withhold in their household. Children become curious when learning about new things and they ask questions, but parents have no control on what the teacher may respond or how much information he/she may give. Some lessons taught in comprehensive sex education programs can include lessons on sexual intercourse, options if they don’t use contraceptive and become pregnant. Having the topic of abortion be taught in some of these programs isn’t something parents want their children to keep in the back of their head as a fallback option if needed. It goes back to religion and what beliefs people have on these topics.

Our school systems have to keep in mind that overly exposing children to certain sexual material can actually push them to be more curious to try it at an earlier age. Public school sex education can overlook many students faith and religious values at times. Forcing students to sit in a class where they may be taught contradicting material about sex from what they grew up knowing in their household or church is also wrong. Educating properly our youth about sex is important because some may feel comfortable enough with their kids being taught these materials in school. While others feel that sex education should be left to the parents discretion, that is why many still vote that sex education should not be mandatory in public schools but be taught as an optional choice for their family to make.  

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Sex Education In Public Schools. (2021, Jun 29). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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