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Sex Education

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 6 months ago
Sex Education: Comprehensive versus Abstinence-Only 
Sex education is defined as the education of anatomy, sexual reproduction, intercourse, and sexual behavior. There are many views as to how sex education should be taught through the health course. There are two different types of ways to teach students about sex, abstinence education and comprehensive sex education. Abstinence-only sex education emphasizes the importance of abstaining from sex, until marriage and avoids any discussion about the use of contraceptives. Comprehensive sex education covers abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, but also teaches about contraception and avoidance of STIs when sexually active. Therefore the question that comes to mind who decides which method students should be taught? There are benefits and disadvantages to both methods.
Federal Policy
Through out the United States different states have passed their own bills as to how students will be taught about sex. As a nation, in 2000 funds were set aside, approximately 47 million dollars, to help form HIV/AIDS education in schools. This was provided by the Center of Disease Control after the AIDS health crisis during the 1980’s.   Only 2 states, Ohio and Utah refused the CDC funds to help teachers go to through HIV prevention courses. Programs and schools that receive the CDC funding must agree to have their curriculum reviewed by a committee which is supposed to follow the Guidelines for Effective School Health Education to Prevent the Spread of AIDS, which recommend a comprehensive curriculum.¹ 
Abstinence-only support began after the Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) presented a goal
In order to prevent premarital teen pregnancy by establishing “family-centered” programs to “promote chastity and self discipline.” ² Since the support of the federal government over 500 million dollars have been given to states who want to use Abstinence-only education. Money and Federal support has been given to promote both forms of sex education, but the ultimate decision is the state’s own responsibility. 







State Policy
The issue of a state’s policy on sex education is very complex; every state has its own way of dealing with the issue. “As of September 2002, 22 states require that students receive sex education and 39 require HIV/STD instruction.”³ There is a constancy that the United States agree that there is need for some sort of sex education. But there is some discrepancy as to what should be emphasized during sex education. “Thirty (30) states require local school districts that offer sex education to teach about abstinence… but no state requires that birth control information be emphasized.”⁴ But committees and school boards have the most influence on district policy. In most states, parents are given the option as to whether or not they want their children receiving sex education of any kind. 
Is this policy practical?
On a federal level I think that this policy is very practical. The federal government has provided each state with the funds to go about sex education. How ever each state is its own set of rules as to what is required for each school district to cover through sex education. The ultimate decision is up to the school board and then eventually the parents of the student. I think that it should be the parent’s decision as to what their child should be taught in terms of sex and if what is being taught is against their religion or morals then they have the right to essentially “protect” their student from the information that would be provided.   
Is this policy principled?
I personally do not think that this policy is principled. I believe that sex is an important issue that needs to be addressed fully in a health class. Students need to know what the consequences are for having pre-marital sex, but it is important to teach students about the contraception and its benefits. As a teacher it is our job to guide students to make the right decisions in their life and all students should be given all the facts and in order to make those decisions on their own. 
Is this policy professionally sound?
I believe this policy to be professional sound. The government has given parents many options as to decide if they want their children to be taught comprehensive or abstinence-only sex education. My personal opinion is that all students should be taught a comprehensive curriculum of sex education. Because it is not realistic for parents to think that their children will abstain from sex until they are married. Students need to be taught the correct ways in prevention of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. 

¹ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guidelines for Effective School Health Education to Prevent the Spread of AIDS, MMWR 37(S-2);1-14, January 29, 1988.
² Saul R, Whatever Happened to the Adolescent Family Life Act? The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, Vol. 1, no. 2, April 1998.
³State information listed in this section is taken from The Alan Guttmacher Institute, State Policies in Brief: State Sexuality Education Policy, December 1, 2002, and Gold RB and E Nash, Special Analysis: State-Level Policies on Sexuality, STD Education, The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, Vol. 4, No. 4, August 2001.
⁴ The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Sex Education in the U.S.: Policy and Politics. October 2002.


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