Sex education: Just the facts


By Boswell Hutson

Sex education is, and probably always will be, a contentious issue across the United States. The tight-rope thin border between education and over-informing is a difficult line to walk, and in some cases, it seems like the vocal minority, clouded by personal morals or misunderstandings, overshadows the rational majority. Unfortunately, this week was no exception.

Recently, some parents in a Las Vegas school district expressed concern over the district’s new sex education policy, which had an emphasis on scientific anatomy and was compliant with guidelines set out by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States — a group that has been developing curricula for sexual education for 50 years. 

The program, which aimed to prepare teachers for anatomical sex education starting in kindergarten, prompted boisterous backlash from parents at a school board meeting that was so intense it caused the school district and superintendent to backpedal, canceling the new sex education policy entirely.

According to the outraged parents, the bulk of concerns with this now-defunct program came from issues surrounding how the district would emphasize the safety and plausibility of abortions and acknowledge sexual assault and different sexual orientations. 

The parents who opposed the sex education class for these reasons are blatantly misguided. 

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To the parent who was outraged that the program was teaching students that abortion is safe: To tell a student that an abortion is safe is not manipulative or evil; rather, it is factual. A patient is actually 40 times more likely to die from a colonoscopy, a procedure common for many in America, than to die from an abortion. 

Giving these facts to students is not corrupting youth, but rather presenting scientific information to counter the biased views from any side. 

Similarly, there are people who identify as gay — it is a fact, and it is neither absurd nor weird. I would hope that sexual education would not only acknowledge the existence of other forms of human sexuality, but would also teach our students that it’s not strange to identify as gay.

Other parents expressed concern about teaching children about sexual assault. Sexual assault happens in the real world. Including information about sexual assault in sex education is something that would make students more knowledgeable on the topic and, thus, more able to identify assault when it happens. 

I fail to see how informing students of the dangers of sexual assault could be a bad thing, especially at a time when it is more prevalent than ever. 

Just a few weeks ago, it was released in the Chicago Tribune that the University paid more than $77,000 in settlement to a student who felt the administration had minimized her sexual assault case in 2011. While I’m not saying this could have been prevented if education on the issue were mandatory for all young American students, sexual assault certainly is a problem that needs to be addressed. 

The more we know, the better prepared we are to understand our surroundings, which is especially important on a college campus where sexual assault and harassment is a large problem, and where exposure to various sexual orientations and discussions of abortion happen. 

Awareness starts to grow at a very early age, and, thus, starting sex education early is not a problem as long as it is done appropriately, as it would have been done in Nevada. 

What is so worrisome about the Clark County School Board’s decision is that the cries of a few loud parents overpowered the voice of logical rationality. Knowledge is power, and the more we teach our students about their own bodies, the more power they will have to control their own bodies. 

This doesn’t only apply with grade school level students, as we have seen in Nevada, but can also be applied to any other age-group, including college students.

The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States is not an evil organization. It’s not trying to corrupt the young. The parents who oppose comprehensive and anatomic sex education for children are either living in a dream world where sexual problems don’t exist, and thus need not be addressed, or they’re very far off-base. 

Unfortunately, I’m afraid it’s the latter.

The real world is a scary place, especially on a large college campus like ours. I woke up this past weekend to multiple crime alerts about sexual assaults — they’re far too common. 

I’m not saying that preaching to the population through sex education is going to be a cure-all for these problems, especially when it comes to sexual assault, but I am saying that eliminating crucial facts that should be part of sex education is definitely not the right way to combat any problems we as a society face in that realm.

Boswell is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected].