Even if Bill Nye had a video about sex education, I’m sure the subject would still be painful for middle school students.
There might not be any way to get around the fact the no one really likes sitting in on a sex ed lesson. Yet however awkward it is, there’s also no way to get around the importance of and need for sex ed; everyone should know more than just the basics about healthy and safe sex. But after a quick look at the status of sexual education in America, it’s easy to see that we get a failing grade. There are so many aspects to talk about, and self expression of sexual identity is an important one. Not many know about many things surrounding things. Majority even believe that dildos are only for women and condoms only for men. when in fact there are dildos for men and condoms for women. A basic example of the misinformation that teens have.
Currently, because education is largely left to the control of State governments, American kids learn many different things about sex. While some students in Texas have strict abstinent-only lessons that ignore or even discourage contraceptive use, schools in California are required to have medically accurate sex education that is culturally sensitive and does not promote religion. You can read a full brief on state sex education policies here.
Many states do not require any kind of sex education in schools.
In states that don’t require sex education, schools can still choose to offer it but they do not have any mandatory guidelines for content. Most states don’t even obligate that sex education must be medically accurate.
So what does this mean for America’s students?
Lack of a clear legal requirement to have medically accurate sexual education in schools means that, in many cases, students will not learn basic information about sex and how to maintain their sexual health.
The Center for Disease Control recently announced that STI infection rates have “reached an all time high” because many sexual health clinics are closing (thanks, Republicans) and the amount of people getting tested and seeking treatment for STIs has decreased.
However, this increase in infection rates can’t be solely attributed to political attacks on sexual health clinics like Planned Parenthood. It is also important to consider how the lack of reliable sex ed across the country contributes to this. If students are not learning the life long impacts of some incurable STIs and how to prevent getting them, then there is no way that we can realistically expect STI infection rates to decrease.
However, sexual education is about more than just STIs.
There are a wide range of topics that should be covered in sex ed lessons, because there are a wide variety of things that affect a person’s sex life. Content pertaining to LGBTQAI sexual health, healthy relationships, and affirmative consent is missing in most curriculum in the US, which means that students are not learning everything they need to know.
A solution to this problem will be hard to find, and the answer probably doesn’t lie with Bill Nye. Given this incredibly awkward clip from one of his episodes, we probably can’t trust him with a full length feature about sex ed.
As many Americans continue to lose faith in our government, we may need to seek community-based answers to social problems we want to solve.
Genuine Justice is a column about reproductive justice focusing on current events, historical perspectives and systematic racism in women’s healthcare.