Utah, it’s time we had ‘The Talk’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Illustration by: Ashley Fairbourne


Sometimes a fear comes creeping into my mind that we are still stuck in the 19th century. At one point people need to just wake up and realize that it is 2015 and change isn’t going to kill us, in fact it could save many lives.

The last time sex education in public school was brought up to the state legislation was clear back in 2012, nearly three years ago. Today hundreds of students are being unknowingly and recklessly denied their own rights to understanding the health risks they are potentially exposing themselves to.

In high school, I don’t remember ever hearing the phrase Sexually Transmitted Diseases except when my health teacher told us that he wasn’t allowed to speak of that or contraception. All that I had learned was mostly from other peers, and I understood the basics; Chlamydia and gonorrhea were the diseases to watch out for and HIV was the infection that could kill you.

Maybe that is the reason why my group of friends were all confused when one of us came back from a screening at the doctor’s office to find out they have a strain of HPV. None of us had even heard of it before and none of us knew what it did. That friend ended up getting her cervix frozen and now will be unable to have children.

To date I’ve had two more friends, that I know of, contract the infection, both of which went under the knife to have their infected body parts biopsied. We all wondered where this mystical HPV had come from and if the whole world needed to panic.

Turns out, the Human Papilloma Virus is actually the most common STI in the world. According to the Center for Disease Control HPV is the cause of 90 percent of anal and cervical cancers, 70 percent of vaginal cancers and 60 percent of penile cancers. Even 70 percent of oral cancers can be linked to the virus. Rarely do people show symptoms until it’s too late.

The virus can be avoided by using protection or by getting vaccinated.

When the answers to avoid this is so easy, it seems wrong any of my friends had to suffer through something because information was held from them.

Welcome to our suffocating state legislation where, even if you don’t share the same moral values, you are only allotted the health information people older than you decide you should be hearing.

In fact, if you look up the code on Public Health on Utah’s website it reads: state law and state board rules emphasizing abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage, and prohibiting instruction in:

  • The intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation or erotic behavior;
  • The advocacy of homosexuality.
  • The advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or
  • The advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage.

It is a code based on the assumption that every student in a public school setting has parents who can talk to them about safe sex practices, inform them of the risks their body could be exposed to and even know what the hell they are talking about.

Not to mention that little line about not advocating homosexuality. It’s doubtful many parents know much about safe homosexual practices much less think of talking to their children about it.

The rules created for this code are irresponsible and almost malicious on the part of its creators.

When do we have a say in what we have a right to learn in our educational programs to better our lives before it’s too late?

Maybe it’s time we sat Utah legislation down for ‘The Talk’.