Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Utah's sex education

Utah is considering new sex education approaches. They recently changed their sex education laws to allow teaching of contraception in school sex education classes, but teachers are still apparently afraid of saying the wrong thing and getting fired, so the new sex education law is aimed at mandating teaching contraception. The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board endorsed the bill.

I spoke with a group that is helping out the legislature about ways to bridge the ever-present gap between conservative and liberal views of sex education: conservatives are afraid that teaching contraception encourages kids to have sex, and they were confused that some programs that teach birth control actually cause kids to DELAY sex. The most obvious explanation, of course, is that teens are terrific detectors of propaganda. They want to make their own decision, but they need to be given the autonomy to do so, not just told what to do. As everyone knows, to order a teen to do something without giving them alternatives risks losing the chance to influence them at all.

I also suggested that they include parents in the sex education curriculum somehow, such as through take-home assignments that adolescents complete with their parents. It's a good idea to get parents and adolescents talking about sex, and it may reassure conservatives that the role of schools and parents in sex education is complementary.

I'm excited to see what happens. Utah!

Meanwhile, Oregon just passed a new sex education bill that requires that all abstinence sex education must also include "other material and instruction on contraceptive and disease reduction measures."

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