A Feminist Education
Feminism is a huge part of my life; it is as core to who I am as my hazel eyes or the heart-shaped birthmark on my calf. As such, I believe strongly in feminist sex education – sex ed that teaches students that sexual desires are nothing to be ashamed of, how to safely and effectively use contraception, and about queer sexuality, among other things. In other words, I believe with every inch of me that students in public schools should have access to a comprehensive sexual education.
Every so often, there is an outrage in the media about the rising rates of teen pregnancy and STIs, especially among young women. These articles and reports are often accompanied with headlines such as, “Where have we gone wrong with the girls?”
When I found out recently that there are only fourteen states that require the information taught in sex ed to be medically accurate (this according to the Guttmacher Institute) – that’s when I knew. That’s when I knew where we’ve gone wrong with not just the girls, as these articles (oh-so-sexistly) assume, but with all of the students.
And still, today, we have government officials pushing for even stricter, abstinence-only based education, when we can see every day the effects that this is having on our teenagers. Most states already require their public schools to have an abstinence-based curriculum; unfortunately, it's becoming clear that this is not working.
I have recently started to volunteer for Scarleteen, an online resource that provides comprehensive sex education to teenagers, and to anyone else who needs it. The sheer number of questions we receive from people in their 20s and 30s is astounding – and the questions are not complex, but basic. Teenagers are being denied information about their bodies and themselves from a safe resource – educators in schools – and therefore are forced to gather it from unsafe resources, such as pornography, or to make do without it entirely. As a result, many are unable to make safe and healthy sexual decisions, even far into adulthood.
I have no plans to stop my crusade for feminist sex education in schools. There must be laws, at the bare minimum, requiring information given to adolescents in schools to be medically accurate. There is no reason that these laws shouldn’t already be in place. And after that – who knows? Perhaps one day there will be comprehensive sex education in all public schools. What I know for sure is that, until there is, I will be out there fighting for it – fighting for the basic right to cogent and accurate information about my body.
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