“Viewpoints” is a place on Chapelboro where local people are encouraged to share their unique perspectives on issues affecting our community. If you’d like to contribute a column on an issue you’re concerned about, interesting happenings around town, reflections on local life — or anything else — send a submission to email@example.com.
Don’t Let Lack of Sex Ed Regulations Take ‘Control’ Out of Your Life
A perspective from Jessica Luis
Sexual education was by no means my favorite class in high school. It felt uncomfortable and awkward. But, with that said, the in-depth class material about sexual education and birth control is something that I would never give back. I was one of the lucky ones. I went to a pretty good high school in New Jersey in which the sexual education curriculum was required to be medically accurate and included discussions on various forms of birth control.
This is not the reality in most other states. Although the majority of states, specifically 37, have laws that require a discussion that emphasizes abstinence, only 18 require mandatory education on birth control methods. But why do school boards constantly and continuously push for abstinence when it has been proven time and time again that abstinence, as a birth control method, does not work in preventing teenagers from having sex? It has also been shown time and time again that the states with the worst sexual education curriculums and the ones that stress abstinence are the same states with the highest rates of teenage pregnancy.
Birth control has always been a controversial topic. Now, more than ever, especially after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, certain policymakers have capitalized on this unfortunate situation to enact policies that continuously restrict sexual education advancements in this country. There are parents and grandparents out there who claim that birth control will just encourage sexual activity and they think that they are protecting their children. But isn’t it ironic that restricting knowledge on birth control actually hurts their children in the long run? Directly going against the protection that they claim to want to provide? It is our responsibility, as peers, parents, and grandparents, to change the narrative: Abstinence is not a reliable form of birth control.
It is our responsibility to apply pressure to policymakers and school boards to require mandatory sexual education that incorporates discussion of various forms of birth control in every state and in every school. Our first call to action is to sign petitions to collectively raise our voices that this desire and this need must be met. The more signatures that are obtained, the louder we will be and the more pressure can be applied. Parents and family members should also be taking the time to further educate their children and teenagers on different birth control methods to reiterate the importance of these methods. We should aim to educate our children and peers that birth control is not just for sex. Birth control should be valued for all of the benefits that come with it: a precautionary measure for when teenagers inevitably have sex, as well as a medication that leads to less acne, lighter periods, and less painful cramps.
Learning about the various methods of birth control is helpful, not hurtful. There are many people who are in opposition of this movement because they lack the facts. As Melinda French Gates has said, “Contraceptives unlock one of the most dormant, but potentially powerful assets in development: women as decision-makers.” But how can future generations of women be empowered to make their own decisions when they aren’t even given the chance to learn about something as simple as birth control options and decide if it is right for them? It is time now to work together, as community members, to create a universally accepted sexual education curriculum that captures all of the medically accurate benefits of birth control.
Our children and teenagers need us.
“Viewpoints” on Chapelboro is a recurring series of community-submitted opinion columns. All thoughts, ideas, opinions and expressions in this series are those of the author, and do not reflect the work or reporting of 97.9 The Hill and Chapelboro.com.