Sex education

Because Utah schools fail to teach sex education beyond abstinence, college students have a greater risk of unplanned pregnancy and STDs.


High school sex education in Utah leaves college students clueless about sex.
Carly Montgomery/UVU Review

If a college student was educated in a Utah public school, chances are he or she has no idea of how to use a condom.

According to Utah state law, public schools teaching sexual education must stress, “the importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage” (Section 53A-13-101.4 of Utah Legislation).

Utah school districts following an “abstinence-based” sexual education curriculum are deliberately withholding information on how to be sexually responsible and are leaving its students unprepared for life.

It has been shown that teens who abstain from sexual activity are less likely to be depressed. A study performed by the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health found sexually active teenagers are two to three times as likely to suffer from depression than non-sexually active teens.

But once teens reach adulthood and are considered emotionally and psychologically prepared for sex, students from Utah public schools do not possess the basic knowledge of how to be sexually responsible.

Utah school districts following an “abstinence-based” sexual education curriculum are deliberately withholding information on how to be sexually responsible…

The problem lies in the misinformed belief that teaching any form of contraception will seem like encouragement to be sexually active.

According to Dr. Douglas Kirby in his article “Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy,” there is no evidence so far that proves abstinence-only education prevents or delays teenage sexual activity. What is even more startling is Dr. Kirby has found that student receiving abstinence-only education are forgoing any contraceptive methods, thereby increasing their risk of pregnancies and STDs.

For many students, college is a time to explore the choices in their lives. If students begin to explore the sexual aspects of life without proper knowledge of how to be responsible, this can increase their chances of pregnancy or STDs.

Another problem lies within the culture Utah school districts are located. In a conservative society, where sex before marriage is taboo, there is no room to allow frank discussion on what to do if one chooses to have sex. These college students are left in the dark when it comes to their safe sex options because they have been taught that even having conversations about sex is wrong.

This also may lead to students not seeking out information regarding how to protect themselves against pregnancy and STDs. They may feel they would be judged by their friends, family and neighbors.

The lack of responsibility of the Utah school districts carries repercussions that occur at the university level.

Women who find themselves pregnant often feel pressure from society to marry. Such unions often force both the man and woman to drop out of school and work to support a family. Often, women in these situations never return to school.

According to research conducted by the Center for Disease Control, Utah is one of 12 states that has had a significant increase in the percent of mothers with fewer than 12 years of education.

Utah school districts that allow its students to leave public education without basic knowledge of sexual responsibility are knowingly exposing them to risks that could endanger their chances of graduating from college. In order for school districts to claim they have fully prepared its students for college and for life, they must implement a more contraception-friendly sexual education curriculum.

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