Sex Shops and Sexuality Studies: What You Don’t Know about Sex Education in US

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It’s no secret that US sexual education is in decline nationwide. The latest Guttmacher Institute fact sheet has shed the light on the sources of information teens and young adults use to learn about sex and contraception.

The fact sheet excerpts clearly demonstrate that the US sex-ed sustained a catastrophe in the past decade:

  • Only 22 US states and the District of Columbia mandate education about both sex and HIV. 2 US states mandate sex education only, while another 12 states mandate HIV education only;
  • 37 US states require that sex education programs include information about abstinence; 25 states stress the importance of abstinence, while 12 simply require abstinence to be mentioned as part of the instruction;
  • In 2010-2013 the share of rural adolescents to receive birth control instruction declined from 71% to 48% among girls, and from 59% to 45% among boys;
  • Most youths rely on their parents as sources of sexual education, whose knowledge of the topic is often inaccurate;
  • In 2013-2015 only 45% of teenagers aged 15–17 addressed health care providers. The sex-ed conversation with a doctor lasted 36 seconds on average;
  • Out of 177 sexual health websites examined in a recent study, 46% of those addressing contraception and 35% of those addressing abortion had inaccurate information.  
  • Over 93% of parents say that sex education in middle and high school is important, and most think that sex education should include instruction about birth control.

pexels-photo

Source: Pexels

Abstinence Before Marriage: The Only State-Approved Sexual Practice?

In the light of having insufficient and inaccurate information about contraception and sexual intercourse, most teenagers are left with the only option of sexual abstinence.

However, fear of sexual activities doesn’t eliminate the sex-ed problem. Last year’s appointment of Valerie Huber, the vocal abstinence advocate, to the Department of Health and Human Services raised a lot of eyebrows.

Appointing the person who’s prejudiced about evidence-based health information to the top position in HHS looks like a calculated diversion. Even so, the fiscal year 2017 showed no decrease in sex-ed funding compared to last year:

  • $176 million was provided for adolescent pregnancy prevention programs. The sum was distributed as follows:
    • $101 million for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), the community-based grant program for pregnancy prevention.
    • $75 million for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP),  to fund state programs about both abstinence and contraception.

Still, the ‘abstinence-only-until-marriage’ initiatives seem to be a separate item of expenditure. In 2017, the US Congress allocated $90 million to support ‘abstinence’ programs. This sum made an increase of $5 million compared to last year’s funding.

So, instead of providing teens with credible information about sex, ‘abstinence education’ programs teach about celibacy as the only way out. The education part is centered around the message that “sex outside of marriage is likely to have harmful physical and psychological effects.”

Sex Shops: Mixing Education With Pleasure

Apparently, some US citizens have taken the sex-ed initiative into their own hands. The ‘sex shop next door meeting the university seminar’ format is becoming common in the local communities. New York’s Babeland being one of the most notable examples of this bizarre crossover.

The ‘honest sex-ed’ advocates believe in conveying a “sex-positive, educational-minded message” based on teaching people safe and healthy sexual practices.

The adepts of sex-positive approach seek wisdom in books like Lynn Comella’s “Vibrator Nation” and sex blogs. Without doubt, using alternative sources of information as educational tools help in broadening adults’ view of sex.

Still, an adult has the ability to tell if particular advice is applicable to real life based on experience. As for the teenagers, resources like Scarlateen may shed the light on questions most youths feel uncomfortable to ask.

It is doubtful, whether propagating abstinence by scaring the hell out of adolescents is the right way of teaching them about sex. The ‘honest’ approach seems to be more appealing. However, any information that is not evidence-based should be double-checked to prevent regretful consequences.

There has to be a shift in sexual education on the state level to make it more viable. Otherwise, neglecting crucial issues like this will inevitably end up in nationwide tragedy.

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Sex Shops and Sexuality Studies: What You Don’t Know about Sex Education Solutions in US
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Sex Shops and Sexuality Studies: What You Don’t Know about Sex Education Solutions in US
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It’s no secret that US sexual education is in decline nationwide. The latest Guttmacher Institute fact sheet has shed the light on the sources of information teens and young adults use to learn about sex and contraception.
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