We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in our Schools!
We all want our teens to be safe and healthy, and we know that they need information to make healthy decisions. In our schools, students do not receive the accurate, comprehensive sex education that they deserve—and that California law requires. This needs to change.
What is comprehensive sex education (CSE)?
Comprehensive sex education teaches young people about both abstinence and contraception. It promotes healthy relationships and good decision-making skills. Students learn about condoms and contraception, as well as the benefits of delaying sexual activity. This is information that young people will need at whatever point in their lives they become sexually active.
Why do young people need comprehensive sex education?
Far too many young people suffer the consequences of unprotected sex. Each year, there are an estimated one million new cases of sexually transmitted infections among California teens! One in four teen girls has an STI. And 7% of girls in California become pregnant each year. As adults, we need to do a better job at providing young people with the information and skills they need to protect their sexual health. School should be a place for them to get reliable information that can help them make healthy decisions.
CSE is more effective than abstinence-only in preventing pregnancy and STI’s.
A 2008 study found that students who received comprehensive sex education were half as likely to become pregnant as students who received abstinence-only sex education. Abstinence-only instruction provides misinformation about condoms and contraception and tells students that any sexual activity outside marriage—at any age—is harmful. That concept is based in ideology, not public health science.
Parents in California support comprehensive sex education.
A 2007 survey of California parents conducted by the Public Health Institute found that 89% of California parents—including 86% of evangelical Christians and 71% of people who self-identify as “very conservative”—support sex education that includes instruction about both abstinence and contraception. This support is consistent across racial and ethnic groups, religious affiliations and California regions.
California law requires that sex education be accurate and comprehensive.
Under the California Education Code, sex education in public schools must be science-based, medically accurate, and free of bias. It must also be comprehensive, including age-appropriate information about abstinence, condoms, sexually transmitted infections and contraception in grades 7-12. (If parents do not want their children to receive sex education, they can withdraw them from instruction.) The state recognizes the importance of science-based, comprehensive sex education, and so should our local schools.
Parents and schools can work together to help young people make healthy choices.
Comprehensive sex education at school creates opportunities for parents to talk with their children about sex. Schools should provide the most up-to-date science-based health information. And parents can convey cultural values by sharing their beliefs about relationships and intimacy. By working with schools to ensure that students receive accurate information, we can help young people to understand the benefits of delaying sexual activity and the importance of using condoms and contraception when they do become sexually active. Ultimately, we can help them learn how to build healthy relationships and live healthy lives.
INTERESTED?? JOIN US!
We are parents, educators, and community members who are working to ensure young people receive all the information they need to make healthy decisions. Help us by writing a letter, attending a school board meeting, or simply spreading the word about why this issue is so important.
Contact _________________________________________ for more information and to get involved.
- Kost, K., Henshaw, S., & Carlin, L. (2010). U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity. .
- Jerman, P., Constantine, N. A. & Nevarez, C. R. (2007). Sexually Transmitted Infections among California youth: Estimated incidence and cost, 2005. California Journal of Health Promotion, 5, 80-91.
- Forhan, Sara E. et al. (2009) Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Female Adolescents Aged 14 to 19 in the United States. Pediatrics Vol. 124 No. 6, 1505 -1512
- Kohler, Pamela, et al. (2008) Abstinence-Only and Comprehensive Sex Education and the Initiation of Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy. Journal of Adolescent Health. Vol 42, No. 4. 344-351
- Constantine, N. A., Jerman, P., & Huang, A. X. (2007). California parents' preferences and beliefs on school-based sexuality education policy. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 39, 167-175.