Here in the District, where our Wrap MC program is in its third year and condom availability in public high schools has been the law for years, it might seem like this is the norm. After all, you might think, it makes sense to make condoms accessible to young people when the average age of first sex in D.C. is about 15 and almost 3,000 cases of Chlamydia are reported each year in young people under 19. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as we’ve been reminded by this list of 11 facts about sex education in the United States. We’ve come across it a few times recently, so we thought we would share, in case you missed it (via the sexed4everyone Tumblr):
- More than two thirds of all public school districts have a policy to teach sex education. The other 33% of districts leave policy decisions up to individual schools or teachers.
- Of all public school districts, 86% require that abstinence be promoted in their sex ed programs.
- Only 14% of public school districts with a policy to teach sexual education address abstinence as one option in a broader educational program to prepare adolescents to become sexually healthy adults.
- Over half of the districts in the South with a sex education policy have an abstinence-only policy, compared with 20% of such districts in the Northeast.
- More than 90% of teachers believe that students should be taught about contraception, but 25% are prohibited from doing so.
- The majority of Americans (including three quarters of parents) favor more comprehensive sexuality education over abstinence-only education.
- There are currently three federal programs dedicated to funding restrictive abstinence-only education, requiring programs to teach that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong and harmful for people of any age, prohibits them from discussing contraceptive use except to emphasize their failure rates. These programs had a total annual funding of $102 million in 2002.
- About 35% require abstinence be taught as the only option for unmarried people and either prohibit the discussion of contraception altogether or limit discussion to its ineffectiveness. 15% of Americans would prefer an abstinence-only education.
- There is currently no federal law program dedicated to supporting comprehensive sexuality education that teaches young people about both abstinence and contraception.
- About 51% have a policy to teach abstinence as the preferred option for teens and permit discussion of contraception as an effective means of preventing pregnancy and STDs.
- Recent research shows that abstinence-only strategies may deter contraceptive use among sexually active teenagers, increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy and STDs.
Sources: Guttmacher Institute, Advocates for Youth, NPR, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
Sometimes it’s important to just recognize the context in which the Wrap MC program exists. In a lot of places, as you can probably tell from the statistics above, policies would prevent the whole program from existing, even if, on an individual basis, people thought it was a good idea.
No program is without its critics. Maybe you’ve gotten a few raised eyebrows from your friends or family if you’ve told them about becoming a Wrap MC. Condoms can’t solve every problem, but condom availability is about more than just restocking a fishbowl once a week. By taking the time to become a trained resource to them on these kinds of topics, you’re empowering your students and clients to make smarter, healthier choices. We hope you’re proud of the good you’re doing – we certainly are! Thanks for all you do.