Youth across the US, and the entire world for that matter, deserve access to relevant, contemporary information about sex.
In many cases, sex ed is still presented to students in a way that channels awkward, uncomfortable feelings of embarrassment and shame.
We don't need to be ashamed, uncomfortable or dismissive of human anatomy and bodily functions. If students are taught this way, there will continue to be a plethora of negative outcomes.
In places where sex education isn't provided at all in school, teens still learn lessons about sex, but they learn through unsafe trial and error, rather than using a preventative approach to safe sex and STDs.
But why is this all so important? Why can't families teach their kids about safe sex? Or why can't students learn these things for themselves? After all, previous generations did fine without having much for sex ed, right?
In order to make the future safer for teens and young adults, inclusive sex education is an absolute necessity for the youth of today and tomorrow.
The following key reasons showcase exactly why comprehensive sex education needs to be discussed with students:
STDs are continually on the rise.
While information continues to become easier and more convenient to access, the number of new STD cases continues to increase.
According to STD Labs, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia saw a dramatic increase between 2014 and 2015
The same resource also points out young, sexually active people and gay and bisexual men are the demographics affected most by rising STD rates.
Statistics like these continue to back up the idea that more in-depth sex ed is a must for schools across the board.
LGBTQ+ youth are excluded in school sex education too frequently.
For students who are questioning or beginning to understand their own sexual orientation and/or gender identity, topics like health and sex ed present some barriers.
Many schools fail to provide all-encompassing sex ed information to their students, meaning LGBTQ+ students are more likely to feel excluded from dialogues about safe sex and STD/HIV prevention.
It's disheartening to find out only around 5 percent of students report they've been taught positive information about LGBTQ+ people in health classes.
And what about intersex people?
Many students don't even understand what the word intersex means, which equates to a group of essentially forgotten youth.
How are intersex kids (who make up about one in 1500 to one in 2000 births) supposed to navigate and understand their sexual health if they themselves and their peers aren't even being educated about intersex people?
While health teachers should include LGBTQ+ friendly information in their sex ed classes, many curriculums don't allow for this. But everyone, including counselors, teachers and other faculty, must do their part in creating an LGBTQ-inclusive education environment.
Students of all genders and sexual orientations deserve fair treatment and equally relevant sex education.
Homophobia and transphobia are public health issues.
It may be true that more people are opening their minds to ideas like sexual and gender fluidity, but that doesn't mean the world has fully embraced gay and trans students.
According to a study by John Auerbach, not much data exists regarding HIV and STDs in the LGBT community because public health institutions and clinics don't often collect information relating to gender or sexual orientation.
While STD prevention is important to teach LGBTQ+ students, sex ed doesn't stop there. These students deserve access to sex ed that accommodates how they identify.
What's more? Transphobia is prevalent in many places at schools. Bathrooms and locker rooms present issues for students questioning their gender, and even school nurses are homophobic and transphobic at times.
Students and faculty sometimes struggle to comprehend what gay and trans students are going through at school, because they typically aren't well versed in LGBTQ+ culture and struggles.
Sexual assault and rape are still at alarmingly high levels.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, a fifth of women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point, with 10 percent and 2 percent being raped by their own partners, respectively.
And people aren't even safe on school campuses. Again, a fifth of women will likely be sexually assaulted in college.
Unfortunately, most of these incidents go unreported. 63 percent of assaults in general go unreported, though that percentage jumps to 90 percent for college sexual assault cases.
We must teach our youth about sexual consent and educate them about just how life-altering rape and sexual assault are for victims. Education is a powerful tool we must utilize to its fullest potential early on if we ever hope to see these statistics to change.
Very few people actually wait until marriage.
Despite what your grandparents may try to preach, most people don't wait until they are married to have sex.
A study in Public Health Reports found that about 95 percent of the study participants reported having sex before marriage.
And in fact, even young Christians are having premarital sex.
Try as they might to stay alive, old-school thoughts on sex are disappearing. Young adults need to be continually educated on the true, uncensored aspects of sex ed and not be ashamed or scared of having sex.