Articles for Parents and Teachers
Sexuality Education – Building an evidence- and rights-based approach to healthy decision-making¹ by Bridges and Hauser, 2014, and Why Sex Education Also Belongs in the Home³ by Gordon, 2014, discuss the importance of sexual education in homes and classrooms and provide parents, teachers, and community members with resources to improve the health and lives of young people.
Comprehensive sexual health education is important. Only by giving youth the information and skills they need can we expect them to take responsibility for their sexual lives and health. The obvious reason sexual education is important is because it helps teens protect themselves against pregnancy and STIs.¹ Teens who receive sexual education are also more likely to postpone their sexual activity.³ Comprehensive sexual education improves understanding of the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships and become comfortable communicating with parents, friends, and partners about sexual activity and health.¹ It teaches them to respect themselves and their body’s, the choices and body’s of others, and different gender and sexual orientation identities.¹ Finally, by improving sexual health of students, comprehensive sexual health education also improves their academic success.¹
Parents can avoid talking about sexuality with their children but this often leads to children receiving incomplete and sometimes completely false information from their peers.³ Alternatively, they can address the subject in a clear and straightforward manner. Sexual education from parents is best when parents are comfortable with their own sexuality, confident using language surrounding sex, and knowledgable about facts and resources related to adolescent sexual behavior.³ Some teenagers will engage in sexual behavior despite encouragement not to, so it is important to also let them know how to do so safely.³
There are now National Sexuality Education Standards for education in schools. “The standards focus on seven topics as the minimum, essential content and skills for K–12 education: Anatomy and Physiology, Puberty and Adolescent Development, Identity, Pregnancy and Reproduction, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV, Healthy Relationships, and Personal Safety.”¹ There are other movements, including the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, that are also attempting to improve sexual education in schools. Parents, teachers, and community members can improve sexuality education by organizing, creating, and supporting movements they believe will make a difference in the lives of young people in their community and across the country.¹