Sex-ed is one of the most dreaded parts of high school. You likely remember your cheeks blushing bright red as your teacher slid a condom onto a banana. Or perhaps you remember your classmates giggling as the teacher showed a powerpoint with graphically accurate human anatomy. But, as embarrassing as it is, sex-ed is necessary to understand the world around us. It is for that reason, that I believe that we should require sex-ed as a General Education requirement in universities.
There is currently a program required for freshman entering UNCG, Haven, which covers topics such as sexual harassment, relationship violence and sexual assault. This is an incredibly useful resource for the campus, and it really allows a necessary discussion on a college campus about sexual violence, and what students can do if they are faced with these situations. Yet, it does not discuss other topics about sex which are just as important to be informed about.
There is currently no mandatory course at UNCG which discusses even basic topics such as sexual anatomy, or properly using contraception. While these topics should have been covered in high school sex-ed classes, this is not a guarantee. Many students rely on the internet for sexual education, and currently have gaps in their knowledge about sex-ed due to high school sex-ed classes not being nearly as comprehensive as they should have been.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, only 13 states currently require that sexual education in schools to be medically accurate. Eighteen states currently require that information about contraception is provided, whereas 39 states currently mandate that abstinence has to be included. It’s not a secret that sexual education could be improved in schools. Perhaps the best way to combat this issue would be to bring comprehensive sexual education to colleges.
This is not to assume that college students do not understand sex-ed, as resources such as the internet exist with a wealth of knowledge about the subject. Yet the internet cannot always be trusted to be an accurate or unbiased source. By providing sexual education on a college campus, we can assure that college students are beginning this transitory and exciting time in their lives, with proper information about sexuality, even if they do not plan to be sexually active.
One benefit of requiring sexual education on college campuses is that it could reduce the spread of many STIs. According to the Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, young people between the ages of 15-24 account for 50 percent of all new STIs each year. While it may sound as if hormones are to blame, it’s more likely due to misinformation. Many young people are just not educated on the subject of safe sex.
Providing a mandatory sexual education course in colleges could also help circulate accurate information about and for those who identify as LGBT+. Many high school sex-ed programs do not even offer basic information about non-heterosexual relationships, nor about gender. This would not only help the members of these communities find positive, unbiased information, but would also provide a better understanding about these identities for those who identify as cisgender and heterosexual.
I happened to be one of the lucky ones who had a relatively comprehensive sex-ed class in middle and high school. Though the class was abstinence-based, we talked about STIs and their signs, and even discussed non-heterosexual relationships. I did not realize that I had gaps in my education until I took a Human Sexuality course at UNCG.
The course naturally reviewed the benefits of abstinence, as well as the anatomy of a human body. Yet, it also talked about the stages of pregnancy, other types of contraception besides birth control and condoms, and even discussed sexual behaviors which were considered deviant. I felt that the things I was learning in this class were things I should have learned when they covered the birds and the bees in school. It’s the kind of knowledge we all should have learned in school.
A class like this would greatly help other students, who may not have had a proper discussion about sex when they were growing up. Sex, specifically safe sex, is arguably one of the most important topics to be informed on, and we as a nation are accepting a subpar understanding of it. We have changed the conversation about sexual violence with programs such as Haven. It’s time to stop the misinformation about basic sexual education amongst college students.