Published: Fresh U. July 14, 2016. Viewable here.
The Terrence Higgins Trust organization, a charity in the United Kingdom which aims to educate young people about sexual health to minimize STIs and STDs, recently released a study detailing how sex and relationships education (SRE) is being covered in schools. More than 900 students in the UK, ages ranging from 16 to 24, were surveyed for the study.
The results found that SRE is either touched on minimally or, in some cases, absent in schools. Half of those surveyed said they would rate their SRE as ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ and 95 percent of those surveyed said they were not taught about LGBT+ relationships at all.
Such a surprising study abroad might serve as a reflection on the degree and scope of sex education in the United States.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, as of March of 2016 less than half of states – 24 and the District of Columbia – mandate sex education to be taught in public schools and 33 states mandate education about HIV/AIDS.
Also detailed on the website is 2016 sex education legislation. Bills that failed this year include HB859/SB1056, which would have mandated that Florida’s public schools teach STI and HIV/AIDS prevention as well as human sexuality, Georgia’s HB 406 would have taught about sexual assault and abuse prevention and awareness in Kindergarten through grade 12, HB 756 in Mississippi would have revised state curriculum to include resources for sexual assault victims, SB 713 in Missouri would have educated young people on prevention against teen dating violence, HB 1507 in Oklahoma would have implemented programs about sexual, domestic and dating violence and stalking awareness and prevention and, among many others, SB 5506 in Washington would have informed students about consent.
Young people ages 15-24 contract the highest amount of STIs than any other group, as reported by Advocates for Youth. Furthemore, they hold that one young person is infected with HIV every hour in the United States and 15 percent of those infected each year with HIV are the 13-24 age group.
“Research clearly shows that comprehensive sex education programs do not encourage teens to start having sexual intercourse; do not increase the frequency with which teens have intercourse; and do not increase the number of a teen’s sexual partners,” Advocates for Youth reports.
In February of this year, President Obama cut federal funds for public school programs which taught abstinence only, and The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States offered this statement: “After three decades and nearly $2 billion in federal spending wasted on this failed approach, the President’s proposed budget increases support for programs and efforts that seek to equip young people with the skills they need to ensure their lifelong sexual health and well-being. The continued funding for the Division of Adolescent and School Health and request for future Personal Responsibility Education Program funding demonstrates this administration’s commitment to secure the right to quality sexuality education for young people.”