The Hourglass

Let’s Talk About Sex

Julia Maenza '18, Staff Writer

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Originally featured in the January/February 2018 Edition

“Who can tell me what the safest form of sex is?”
“Condoms.”
“Incorrect. The only true form of safe sex [is] abstinence.”
“Oh. Ok. I didn’t realize we were doing trick questions. What’s the safest way to go skiing? Don’t ski!”
While a fictional character on the popular television show The Office, Dunder Mifflin employee Darryl Philbin demonstrates a realistic interpretation of how sex education should be taught in the United States.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 24 states mandate sex education, 34 states mandate HIV education, 13 states mandate that the information be medically accurate, 36 states allow parents to remove their children from receiving information, two states prohibit promoting religion, and 26 states require that abstinence be stressed. 12 states require discussion of sexual orientation, and nine states require that this discussion should be inclusive. Three states mandate that any information about homosexuality be negative (https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/sex-and-hiv-education).
Former Congresswoman and Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann spoke for a number of citizens when she said, “Our K-12 public school system will be required to learn that homosexuality is normal, equal, and perhaps you should try it” (http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/michele-bachmanns-top-ten-anti-gay-quotes/politics/2011/06/02/21233) While Bachmann is primarily concerned with children learning about the sexual conduct of members of the LGBT community, she also fears that comprehensive education regarding same-sex relationships will turn her children gay. By not informing children about how to responsibly engage in sexual intercourse, the United States government risks numerous cases of sexually transmitted diseases that could be otherwise avoided.
Abstinence-only education is much like heterosexual sex education in that it upholds the beliefs that if a community refuses to discuss certain issues that make people uncomfortable, those issues won’t happen. Studies have repeatedly proven that abstinence-only simply does not work. (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/08/23/545289168/abstinence-education-is-ineffective-and-unethical-report-argues, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3194801/, http://www.siecus.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&PageID=1195) A comprehensive plan for sex education will undeniably decrease teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. However, those who mandate the curriculum would rather deny that teenagers are having sex then teach them how be safe.
Among 123 Baldwin Upper Schoolers, 67.5% responded that they did not feel as though they received proper sex education while at Baldwin. 18.7% felt as though their education was sufficient, and 13.8% replied that they did not know. While 67.5% is an obvious majority, which is concerning, 13.8% is a large amount of students who are unsure. Whether they do not understand the question, sex education, or Baldwin’s sex education remains unclear. However, the answer should ideally be 100% yes. As a college preparatory school, Baldwin should equip its students with knowledge they will realistically need, in college and beyond.
Instead of telling young people to never ski, why don’t we teach them how to use ski goggles and a helmet?

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