Expand Sex Education at Stoga

Expand Sex Education at Stoga

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Jessica Ivey started this petition to Conestoga High School and

-- Article from The Spoke, Authored by Claire Guo {with minor edits by Jessica Ivey} --

Let’s talk about sex.

Really. We need to talk about sex in high school. Conestoga currently has no sex education curriculum in any of its classes. Although both middle schools have sex education courses — covering some birth control methods, STD prevention and basic anatomy — the high schoolers need a refresher. After all, Americans lose their virginity, on average, at age 17. That’s the juniors and seniors of Conestoga. 

For one, the content focus should shift. In middle school, sex ed focused on reproductive development and puberty — information that was extremely relevant then. Now, we need a new focus: sexual health, birth control and STD prevention as well as sexual orientation, healthy relationships and consent.

High schoolers have probably forgotten what they've learned back in middle school. Psychology’s forgetting curve states that people retain less than half of learned information after one hour. I mean, do you still remember all the state capitals? We learned those in middle school, and I remember maybe five. Crucial information we learned just a few years back has more than likely been forgotten by now.

It’s easy to assume that parents will provide most information teenagers need to know about sex. There are two potential problems: 1) many parents don’t know medically accurate information on all the relevant topics and 2) it can be difficult for the child or the parent to have that talk. One 1991-2012 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 24 percent of females ages 15-17 had not spoken with their parents about birth control or how to say no to sex. For LGBTQ+ youth, that talk can be even harder.

Instead, many teenagers turn to the internet or simply what they’ve heard from friends and seen in the media (75 percent of primetime TV programs contain sexual content, according to studies). Sex education is important for dispelling the myths that we’ve learned through unreliable sources. The pull-out method, for example, is only 78 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, compared to condoms being 98 percent effective. Women can still get pregnant during their period. You can not get an STD from a toilet seat. And so on.

The simplest way for Conestoga to integrate sex education into the curriculum is to add those topics to the Health and Fitness course. If there’s not enough room in that course, Conestoga should broaden the new CCT course to include sex education. It is, after all, a very important topic as we transition to college and adulthood.

There’s also overwhelming support from parents. According to a 2017 study, 93.5 percent of parents nationwide feel it is important to have sex education taught in middle school, and 96 percent feel it is important to have sex education taught in high school. For parents who are uncomfortable or object for other reasons, an opt-out slip like the one we had in middle school should do the trick.

Currently, Pennsylvania does not require sex education but does require HIV education. A new bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would make sex education mandatory. Unfortunately, Bill 1586 is currently stuck in committee, and we shouldn’t need that extra push to implement sex education at Conestoga. 

Let’s talk about sex, now.

-- The Spoke, Claire Guo {with minor edits by Jessica Ivey}

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