Keeping your hands to yourself is something we all learn at a very young age. For some reason, people tend to forget this very important rule after puberty hits.
Sex education shouldn’t just be abstinence, which just teaches children not to have sex. It should teach safe, consensual sex for all sexualities.
Poor sex education can lead to teen pregnancy, STDs and rape. In the U.S. 22.3 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15-19 years old will become pregnant, one in four teens will contract a sexually transmitted disease and one in nine girls will experience sexual abuse or assault.
Children need to know how to prevent these things because they’re going to end up having sex regardless. Teaching students to prevent pregnancy and STDs is important, but consent is important to prevent rape.
Consent is not a difficult concept to teach. Consent is just asking a yes or no question. Do you want to have sex, yes or no? If they do not say yes, then the answer is no. It is that simple. Exception to this rule are cases where someone in a position power is forcing you to do something you feel like you have to do, or in the case of minors. Consent is a quick and easy lesson that should be common sense.
It is common sense not to force someone to do something when they are unconscious, under the influence or if they just don’t want to do it. It shouldn’t be any different when it comes to sex.
In most public high schools, students are required to take a health class, but it doesn’t teach anything useful. Most health courses tell you what not to do, but don’t teach legitimate prevention methods. Health classes often advocate against having sex or drinking alcohol, but if children want to have sex and drink they’re going to do it. They should at least learn how to do both of these things safely.
Sex education is often taught too late to prevent teenage pregnancy and the transmission of STDs. Health class is flawed, and should should go a step further than abstinence. It should also be taught before children go through puberty. Children should understand consent and how to use a condom before they even want to have sex at all.
Safe sex isn’t required to be taught in public schools, and the schools who do teach it teach heterosexual sex. According to the University of California, Santa Barbara’s sociology department, society has tended to place blame on survivors, rather than perpetrators, of the sexual assault. Not teaching members of the LGBT community safe sex promotes homophobia and hurts children when they grow up.
There should be education on safe sex for all sexualities. As a society, we should get rid of the stigma against LGBT sex. To people outside of the community, it’s the unknown that makes it scary. If everyone was educated, the stigma and fear would be minimized, and people would better understand and respect one another.
All sex is going to happen whether or not anyone wants to teach it. If it is going to happen, people might as well be safe about it. Education should start at a young age, so that children can grow up with the knowledge of safe, consensual sex.
Ashlon Lusk is a 19-year-old mass communication freshman from Houston, Texas.