In my health class last year, sex education mattered. Until it didn’t.
“We’ll get to it next week,” our teacher would say. Eventually, that changed to “We’ll get to it.”
We never got around it. My health teacher no longer teaches at Riverside. However, after researching North Carolina’s sex ed curriculum for an investigative project last semester, I learned that my class wasn’t the only one that didn’t meet the state’s standards.
And considering how crucial it is for teens, especially those who are actively having sex or are deciding how intimate they want to be with their partner.
According to a study conducted by Guttmacher Institute, 43% of females and 47% of males received sex education before engaging in intercourse, and more than half of adolescents (53% of females and 54% of males) reported receiving sex education classes that meet the minimum standards of Healthy People 2030 in 2015-2019.
I didn’t get any kind of education on the matter. In fact, it was completely ignored in my ninth-grade health class. The class I observed last semester as part of my research for the Hook story I published with Eden Richman in our February print-edition also tiptoed around the topic. Each day there was a different reason why the class hadn’t gotten around to the sex ed portion of the curriculum.
lass. “We’re making up work today,” the teacher would say, or “We’ll get to it tomorrow.”
Reading a textbook about abstinence and filling out a corresponding packet was the extent of their sex education.
Sex Education is fundamentally important for young people. They learn how to have healthy relationships, make more informed decisions about sex, and learn about consent. And Riverside has to do a better job covering the curriculum. Instead of presenting students with the essential knowledge and skills they need for good sexual health, health teachers throw a textbook at us (that’s centered around being abstinent and severely outdated) and tell us to take notes.
There are plenty of resources that DPS has access to that regards sex education yet teens are being denied of their right to proper sex education. Resources like Planned Parenthood, a national nonprofit organization, offers educational resources that exceed the state standards. They focus on comprehensive sex and behaviors, and these courses are free for schools to use and execute.
One way or another, we’re going to learn about it. If we don’t get it at school, we’ll get it at home, which may not be the kind of information we need. And if we don’t get it from home, we’ll turn to other sources that could be inaccurate and or dangerous.
Simply put, sex ed matters to teens. And it needs to matter to Riverside’s adults, too.