We all know comprehensive sex education works better than abstinence only sex education. We’ve been taught this by educators, seen the difference with students, and experienced the effects ourselves. But what do we really know about the differences? Former US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders calls abstinence-only sex education “child abuse,” but is she right? More than 1/3 of American youth are exposed to abstinence only education and another 1/3 receive do not receive any sex education at all. What effects does this lack of knowledge and power have on our children and teens? How does this impact our rates of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned teen pregnancy? From virginity pledges to misinformation, what are the foundations and tactics of fear-based sex education and their efficacy or lack thereof.
In this session, we will explore the differences between comprehensive sex education programs and abstinence only sex education programs. What does the research say? What do programs teach? How do government policies and funding play a role in sex education? What needs to be added to comprehensive sex education? It’s up to us as sex educators and advocates to break the cycle of poor quality sex education that most American youth are taught. It begins with understanding the difference.