The vows of abstinence break far more than latex — Dr. Joycelyn Elders.
These powerful words from the closing keynote at last week’s Momentum Conference on Sexuality, Feminism and Relationships are still resonating with me. Dr. Elders joined fellow panelists and sexual educators Lara Riscol and Esther Perel to speak about Sex in America: Changing the Conversation between Smut and Sanctimony. The highlights on Storify are available here.
A fair amount of the session addressed the need for comprehensive sex education throughout the lifespan. Dr. Elders also commented that:
The best contraception is a good education.
The panel’s focus on sex education reminded me of one of my Sexuality and Social Media students’ projects. Demi is writing about whether sex should be discussed in the classroom. Specifically, she's exploring the conversation of sex education in schools and examining age appropriate health class discussions, contraception accessibility, and the teacher-student relationship in the classroom. She also is summarizing the sex education debate and concluding to what extent sexuality should be incorporated into the academic curriculum.
• 37 states require school districts to allow parental involvement in sexual education programs;
• Three states require parental consent before a child can receive instruction;
• 35 states and the District of Columbia allow parents to opt-out on behalf of their children;
• 21 states and the District of Columbia require public schools to teach sex education (including HIV education);
• 35 states and the District of Columbia require students receive instruction about STIs and HIV/AIDS; and
• 17 states require sex education curricula to be medically accurate and/or age appropriate. State policies vary in their determination of “medically accurate;” some require that state health departments review curricula, while others require that the facts taught come from “published authorities upon which medical professionals rely.”
I find it fascinating that so many legislatures and parents in this day and age still question the necessity of sex education. As Dr. Elders and so many other sex educators opine, sex education should occur from kindergarten through 12th grade. I look forward to reading more about Demi's findings.
What type of sex education, if any, did you receive? Did any of the above statistics surprise you?