When discussing a good sex education program, people usually think about decreasing sexually transmitted infections or pregnancies. However, the discussion should expand beyond that as many Texas students have only received abstinence-focused sex education or none at all.
The Shorthorn Editorial Board believes all schools and colleges nationwide should consider making sex education compulsory. Now that Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill into law that restricts abortion as early as six weeks, it is more important than ever for Texas to provide better sex education to students and young adults.
Only 24 U.S. states and the District of Columbia mandate sex education, and 34 states mandate HIV education. Almost every state has a guide on teaching sex education but ultimately leaves the decision to school districts.
Texas does not require any sex or HIV education in public schools.
If a school chooses to approach such topics, it must emphasize abstinence until marriage to its students.
The state will roll out a new sex education curriculum next year, which will add birth control but exclude information about consent, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Texas is also one of the only two states nationwide that does not cover birth control in the Children’s Health Insurance Program for children under 19 even if it’s one of the key factors in avoiding teen pregnancies, the other being North Dakota. Yet the Texas Legislature failed to pass House Bill 835, which would help cover birth control in child care.
The concept of sex education may be foreign at first, and some students may find it embarrassing to talk about sexual activities and protecting themselves. However, it should expand more than that by including
topics such as consent, healthy relationships and understanding sexual orientation.
According to research by Harvard’s Making Caring Common project, 65% of respondents 18 to 25 years old said in 2017 they wished they received romantic relationship guidance during a sex education course.
Sex education provides many benefits. It helps young adults understand the importance of building a healthy, caring and intimate relationship while also fighting against gender stereotypes.
Sex education may lower the risk of sexual assault in college, according to a study from Columbia University’s Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation.
Once students have learned the benefits of caring about their partners, they may feel less willing to commit sexual violence acts and better engage in future relationships.
Abstinence-only education has proven to be ineffective in preventing students from having sex, according to research by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
Instead, students who receive comprehensive sex education programs show more positive trends in adolescent behaviors such as practicing safe sex.
Teaching consent in sex education is vital, and young adults should not just learn about the concept of consent or how to ask for it.
They should know why consent is important.
Young adults should not be treated like children when discussing sex.
Sex is inevitable, and it does not help if adults keep hiding or treating sex as taboo. In 2018, 66% of college students and almost 40% of high school students in 2017 said they have engaged in sexual activities, according to the National College Health Assessment.
Yet, 21% of almost 38,000 new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. in 2018 came from youth adults aged 13 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Along with all universities, UTA should consider adopting sex education as a compulsory UNIV course, which should help students feel more comfortable in their skin and sexual orientation. The university can also work with Health Services to provide more events about sex education and help further the discussions with as many students as possible.
The Shorthorn Editorial Board encourages the university and adults to make young adults and students feel comfortable when discussing sex.
Everybody should realize sex is beyond procreation and simply about pleasure sometimes. While abortion can be a political issue, nobody should bring politics into helping young adults be healthy, caring and safe.
There is nothing abnormal about sex, so let’s not avoid it.
The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Dang Le; Editor-in-Chief Angelica Perez; associate news editor Cole Kembel; Katecey Harrell, life and entertainment editor; design editor Vivian Santillan; news reporter Taylor Coit; and copy editor Jill Bold. Perez and Coit were not present for this editorial decision, and copy desk chief Kylie Burnham filled in.