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Ifenanya Agwu
Lyra Hilliard
English 101 BL02
24 February 2014
Inquiry Paper
Sexual Education in Schools: Doing More Harm than Good?
Growing up in this digital age where social issues pervade social networks, the media,
and television shows, the topic of sexual health is constantly recurring. As a young, African-
American woman, we are constantly engrained that we have high numbers of teenage, unplanned
pregnancy and in HIV/AIDS among other things. This is an unsettling idea, yet many of people
dont realize how true this is. There are many aspects of our sexual health that we, as teenagers,
are ignorant to and sometimes just refuse to accept. We have a feeling of invincibility because of
our agewe assume these things cannot happen to us. Personally, I know many who have fallen
victim to unplanned pregnancy. I also know a few who have contracted Sexually Transmitted
Infections, they have had common reactionsI never thought something like this could happen
to me and thats because most of us do not think this can happen to us. It puts unwarranted
stress on a person that maybe would not have been completely avoided through more education,
but I am sure it could have done a world of good.
To me, sexual education is defined as education that consists of sexual and reproductive
development, human sexuality, communicable and non-communicable diseases, self-image,
personal relationships, and other main components of sexual healthphysically, mentally, and
spiritually. Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States defines sexual
education as Sexuality education is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming
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attitudes, beliefs, and values. It encompasses sexual development, sexual and reproductive
health, interpersonal relationships, affection, intimacy, body image, and gender roles (SIECUS).
Different sexual education programs have different goals. Some are driven to encourage
abstinence only, or risk avoidance. While others focus on teaching our youth how to protect
themselves while being sexually active or being in romantic relationshipsboth physically,
mentally, and emotionally. Sexual education isnt just about whether or not teenagers should be
sexually active or abstinent. That is one of the most inaccurate assumptions about sexual
education. My question became whether or not sexual education has any effect on sexual
activity, teenage birthrate, and contraction of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and if so whether
abstinence or comprehensive sexual education has the greater effect on our youth.
In his article, Its Time to Make Sex Education Mandatory in Our Nations School,
Steve Siebold, a writer for The Huffington Post, asserts that sexual education should be a
mandatory part of a teenagers high school career. Siebold believes there is no way to truly stop
teenagers from engaging in sexual intercourse. However, Siebold claims that instead of allowing
rhem to learn about sex from sexually explicit movies, games, magazines as well as materials
with sexual content. Siebold asserts that the society we live in is too emotionally immature to
teach teenagers about sexual education. Siebold is extremely against the claim that sexual
education only promotes sexual activity and promiscuity. He believes that teenagers having
sexual intercourse is an inevitable part of life and that sexual education doesnt promote sexual
activityit promotes safe sexual activity. Siebold believes that factors such as religion and the
long held belief that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is a sin. Siebold believes that the
human sex drive is a very powerful force and there isnt a way to stop itbut with sexual
education, we can be sure safe sexual activity is being practiced.
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Siebold believes that sexual education is a pivotal part of a students education. Siebold is
very clear about his position, he completely believes in sexual education and discusses the few
reasons why people may be against sexual education and then the implicit reasons such as
religious views. Siebolds main reasons are that sexual education promotes safe sex practices and
that teenagers will inevitably have sexual intercourse and rather than trying to stop them by not
educating them about it. Sexual health is very important at all ages and is especially imperative
for the youth because many teenagers have a false sense of invincibility. They believe that many
things like Sexually Transmitted Infections, unplanned pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, etc. cannot
happen to them because of their young ages. However, this is a very erroneous assumption.
Many teenagers fall victim to these situations Ive mentioned before because of ignorance.
Ignorance that could be remedied with proper sexual education.
In Dr. Miriam Grossmans article for The Heritage Foundation, Youre Teaching My
Child What? The Truth About Sexual Education, she explains why sexual education programs
are ineffective and how current organizations like Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, Advocates for
Youth do not fulfill promises of improved knowledge on sexual health. Grossman claims that
instead of leading teenagers to protect themselves, their actual goal is to promote sexual freedom
and remove religion ideals from sexual health. Grossman uses an actual teenage client of hers,
Stacy, to convey how high school sexual education programs arent effective. Grossman claims
that sexual education programs arent based off of hard sciences which leaves students
unaware of how certain diseases are contracted and cured or managed. Grossman believes sexual
education should have more concrete scientific facts rather than it being a social movement
and that educating teenagers about these scientific facts should be more of a priority than the
current curriculum in place. Grossman places a bulk of the blame of federally-funded programs
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like SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States), Planned
Parenthood, and Advocates for Youth. Grossman states that these organizations contradict
themselves in their mission and what they actually do. Grossman claims that when they are
sending a message to the teenagers their main message is sexual rights and freedom, regardless
of what adults believe even though they claim parents should be the main educator about sexual
education. Grossman believes that while sexual freedom reigns, sexual health suffers and since
sexual education promotes sexual freedom, it cannot promote sexual health.
Grossmans main reasons for opposing current sexual education programs is that it
doesnt help sexual health in teenagers and in fact increases high risk behaviors among
teenagers. She believes it omits many critical scientific points that only damages teenagers
health. Grossman includes organizations such as Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, and Advocates
for Youth as many people believe that they play significant roles in promoting sexual health to
the youth, however Grossman exposes truths about their messages. I dont necessarily agree
with all of Grossmans points because many of the sexual education courses I was taught
included many scientific aspects. However, I do believe Grossman made a good observation that
many of these programs are promoting sexual freedom and being comfortable with ones
sexuality and are not just giving students the facts they need before engaging in high risk
behaviors. However, Im not sure if I believe it is as detrimental to sexual health as she makes it
seem. In a world where many teenagers are committing suicide and being bullied because of
their sexuality, teaching positive body image and being comfortable with ones self is a pivotal
part of sexual health in teenagers.
Steve Siebold and Miriam Grossmans arguments are almost in complete opposition of
each other. Both of them will probably agree that there are reforms to be made in sexual
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education, and that sexual education is a necessary part of a teenagers life, but they will likely
disagree with what should be emphasized and left out. Siebold believes it should be everywhere
and that society should accept teenagers are having sex whether or not parents agree with it.
Grossman would likely believe this encourages sexual intercourse among the teenagers and
would disagree with emphasizing safe sex practices over abstinence. While Siebold isnt against
abstinence, he doesnt believe sexual education can stop sexual activity and safe practices is
better than damaging sexual health among teenagers. After I read Grossmans article, I do agree
that many teenagers are ignorant to actual scientific aspects of sexual education and that is a big
In a very recent article, Tim Novak, reporter for The Purdue Exponent explores how
effective students feel the typical sexual education programs are to them. Novak reveals that
many students feel these programs are ineffective, mainly because the majority of them center on
abstinence-only programs. Novak used the example of Erin Grimmet who believes abstinence
should be one of many options rather than the only option students are taught. Grimmet also
believes that abstinence-only program prevents students from learning how to handle many of
the issues that come with being sexually active such as Sexually Transmitted Infections,
pregnancy, etc. which then renders sexual education programs useless. Novak would most likely
be in agreement with Siebolds perspective about sexual education, because while Novak doesnt
express a very opinionated stance, the sources he used and his tone suggested that he favors
comprehensive sexual education programs. Novak directly mentions a student who encouraged
Planned Parenthood which is one of the organizations Dr. Grossman speaks out against for their
sexual education program.
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Written for The Sunday Independent, School sex education must be comprehensive and
regulated, columnist Carol Hunt explains that current sexual education programs will not be
effective if it is an abstinence-only program and that comprehensive sexual education is by far
the most effective. Hunt goes into detail about a Catholic based group Pure in Heart which has a
sexual education program that strictly focuses on abstinence and uses logical fallacies such as,
slippery slope, to discourage sexual activity and contraception. Hunt reinforces that statistically,
abstinence only programs are not as effective as comprehensive sexual education; in fact they
dont reduce the age which teenagers become sexually active and instead increases their changes
of contracting diseases or becoming pregnant. However, Hunt explains comprehensive sexual
education prepares students for the real world and arms them with the tools needed to handle
themselves in many situations that stem from sexual activity.
David Muir and Hanna Siegel of ABC News wrote an article that explains how abstinence
based sexual education can work to reduce early sexual activity among teenagers. Muir and
Siegel reference a study that followed middle school students who were split into two groups:
one was taught abstinence based sexual education and the other group was taught comprehensive
sexual education. Muir and Siegel reports that in the study showed, after two years, about one
half of the students in the comprehensive sexual education group were sexually active while only
one third of the abstinence based group was sexually active. Muir and Siegel attribute the
programs success to its conventional view of abstinenceinstead of focusing on marriage,
religion, and morals they emphasized the possible consequences of engaging in sexual activity
such as unplanned pregnancy or contraction of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Muir and Siegel
emphasize that this study reveals abstinence based programs arent as ineffective as we assumed
and it wasnt abstinence that was ineffective, but the way it abstinence was being presented.
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Carol Hunt would most likely agree with Muir and Siegel as she is against religious
based abstinence-only programs and this new program directly addresses that issue. Muir and
Siegel show that sexual education in general does its job, it is only a matter of knowing ones
audience and how to present the program to the students.
After researching and seeing the different views on sexual education, I have noticed that
over the years America as a whole has begun moving away from abstinence based programs as
they continue to be proven ineffective and towards comprehensive sexual education. Sexual
education is still a necessity for adolescents and teenagers, but it doesnt always have to be
comprehensive. Different programs work for different ages. What I have noticed is an issue that
constantly reoccurs is how to reduce sexual activity in adolescents, not only teenagers. Should
abstinence based programs be targeted towards middle schools? Research definitively indicates
that sexual education positively effects the number of teenagers or adolescents engaging in
sexual activity, but it is still unclear as to which one is the most effective. With traditional
abstinence-only programs, comprehensive is better but now with more conventional methods to
teach abstinent, can we say the same?

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Works Cited
Grossman, Miriam. "You're Teaching My Child What? The Truth About Sex Education." The Heritage
Foundation. N.p., Aug. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
Hunt, Carol. "School Sex Education Must Be Comprehensive and Regulated." Irish
Independent, 23 Feb. 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
Muir, David, and Hanna Siegel. "'Abstinence-Only' Education Gets a Boost." ABC News. ABC News
Network, 02 Feb. 2010. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <
Novak, Tom. "Current Sex Education Fails to Meet Student Expectations." Purdue Exponent. N.p., 14
Feb. 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2014. <
Siebold, Steve. "It's Time to Make Sex Education Mandatory in Our Nation's Schools." The Huffington
Post., 09 Apr. 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.