Let’s talk about sex! This may have been one of your least favorite sentences throughout middle school and high school. In reality, all the talk about sex that is happening outside the classroom, in the lives of adolescent Americans, is what promotes many of the widely-believed misconceptions about sexual health.
Quality sexual education is imperative to a society of young adults making smart sexual health decisions and valuing consent in college where hookup culture can be prevalent. Adolescents making safe and smart decisions in their sex lives comes from having reliable information on protecting themselves and their partners.
In both middle and high schools across the United States, the goal of formal sexual education courses is to provide clear and accurate information to help young people make these good choices.
Most students in America receive sexual education courses through their school between grades six and twelve; however, there is no set curriculum for sexual education and there is no standardized testing for proficiency.
The Center for Disease Control published a set of sixteen goals for sexual education. As of 2014, the majority of schools were not teaching the full set of goals. The study showed that in high school classrooms, there was a significantly higher median number of schools meeting each goal than in middle school sexual education.
One of the most notable trends is that sexual education seems to be covering broad topics such as abstinence, awareness of sexually transmitted infections, the importance of respectful relationships and the need for protection from pregnancy and infection.
The upside is any accurate sexual education for adolescents is a good thing — especially on a crucial topic like sexual health! However, the downside is there’s still a shortage of information in the classroom and this shortcoming is compensated for by learning sexual expectations from the media and word of mouth — which begins many sexual myths.
The myths we learn about sex are vast. They range from the idea that two condoms are better than one (not true) or ideas from the media about what is expected based on age and gender in relation to sex.
The many myths of sexual health commonly linger into late adolescence and adulthood, never being addressed in a classroom by a qualified teacher. Instead, they are debunked in a BuzzFeed article or after extensive Google searches.
Regardless of the lessons you were taught by your sixth grade PE teacher or what you may have read online, you are bound to expand your sexual health knowledge when you enter into the real world.
College is one of the first places many people really experience the things you may have learned about sex and a time when many questions you never knew to ask arise.
It can be a harsh reality check when you really actually experience the gravity of making decisions about your sexual health. This experience leaves many college students overwhelmed and confused as they enter adulthood.
Everyone is somewhat sheltered growing up. Therefore, seeking all the information available and becoming educated on something as important as sexual health is vital.
You are not alone if you feel as though you have not received all the information you need about sexual health by just sitting in that sixth grade classroom. However, if you feel undereducated and overwhelmed by unanswered questions about sexual health as you are roaming the streets of your college campus, do not be afraid to reach out to someone educated on these topics and ask the awkward questions.