Inadequate sex education breeds misconceptions

Thinking back to middle and high school, can you remember what you learned about sex education? Me neither. The only thing I can truly recall learning about is the danger of drugs and alcohol and that sex involves a cisgender man penetrating a cisgender woman. 

However, that last statement is an incomplete definition of sex. It can be between any genders, and sex means something different to everybody. These days, children are rarely taught that, and you’d be surprised at the other facts that are kept hidden from them.

Recently, I stumbled across an article by the Washington Post titled, “Can You Pass a Sex Ed Quiz Based on What Teens Learn Today?” I only got eight out of the 10 questions right. I asked three fellow Ramapo students to take the quiz, one male and two females. 

All three of them scored a six out of 10. As people in our 20s, you would think we would get all 10 correct. However, we were not taught basic sexual information in high school. Junior political science major Starr Vijolan-Bobelea said that she “didn’t even have [much] sex education in high school,” and that when she did, it “didn’t focus on actual sex, just sexually transmitted diseases (and what they were).”

According to the Washington Post article, “sex education is mandated in half the states, with another 11 requiring HIV education but not sex ed.” This is purely because of unacceptance and the ideology that it is too inappropriate for high schoolers.

Let’s be real though — what high school student does not know what sex is? With technology on the rise and social media becoming a staple in our lives, they are going to figure it out one way or another, and learning about it online is probably much more harmful than learning about it in school.

In this day and age, children as young as eight are given unsupervised internet access, so who truly knows what they are seeing and figuring out? It is awful to think about, but it’s not untruthful. The internet is not always a reliable source, making it extremely beneficial for teenagers to learn about sex from trusted adults in the school system.

The questions my peers and I got wrong involved the process of fertilization, gender identity, what STDs look like and how they can be treated. These are crucial topics in sex education, and without proper knowledge, we could find ourselves in bad situations. 

I was shocked to find that when I researched, “Why isn’t sex ed taught in schools,” the first link that popped up was titled, “Ten Good Reasons to Oppose Public School Education” from a website called Catholic Parents OnLine

In this day and age, children as young as eight are given unsupervised internet access, so who truly knows what they are seeing and figuring out?

This website states that “the primary teachers of children are their parents. It is their right and responsibility to teach sexual morality to their children.” But this is extremely biased, as within the Catholic faith the only contraceptive that exists is abstinence. 

So what happens when children of religious parents have sex and don’t know the proper ways to use contraceptives? If the sex results in a pregnancy, they could be shunned by family as it is against a lot of faiths to have premarital sex and get an abortion. 

What happens when these children who were not taught about gender identity have a non-binary co-worker or a pansexual boss? I believe that it is absolutely vital that no matter what people believe in, they should be taught the correct sex education. It is harmful to students to not know about these topics, not even just as teenagers, but as adults. Sex education needs to improve.

Featured photo by cottonbro studio, Pexels