Have you heard the news? Sex Education is now a mandatory component of any state-funded public school. According to the new law (Sexual Health Education Policy 103.5) all public schools must provide sex education that is age appropriate and medically accurate - including education on methods of infection prevention (both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections), relationship and communication skills to “form healthy relationships based on mutual respect and affection and are free from violence, coercion and intimidation.” In addition, the new law also requires students undergoing the program to develop critical thinking, problem solving, decision making and stress management related to healthy decisions and inform students about the various community resources.
In addition to the comprehensive elements above, the amended law states the program will encourage students to communicate about sexuality with their parents, guardians, care-givers, or other trusted adults. This may seem like a no-brainer to many people, but it is often something left out of sex education programs - considered to be a ‘given’ and taken advantage that students will talk to their caregivers. Recent literature shows that while most adolescents/teenagers get information about sexuality first from their peers, the internet, and other media, they turn to - and trust their - parents/caregivers more than any other source.
The only thing missing in the document related to the amended sex education programming is the word “abortion” - curiously absent. While the program is a major step forward in the education of our youth on sexuality, it is mainly focused on the prevention of pregnancy and infection… lacking any substance about what to do if you are already sexually active or have unintentionally become pregnant. There is a section (as mentioned above) about “inform[ing] students of available community resources” - hopefully, that includes pregnancy testing, adoption, abortion, and counseling services for ‘what happens after/if’ situations.
Read SIECUS’ report on the program here.
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