Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Comprehensive Sexuality Education
Check out the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project's Take Issue, Take Charge blog for some great posts on comprehensive sexuality education, including a link to this article in U.S. News & World Report, describing sexuality education in Sweden:
Since 1956, sex education has been compulsory in Swedish schools, from the earliest grades through high school. Sex is a natural human act, the educators reason, and most people become active before they're 20. Since there is no changing that, the Swedes figure, young people should at least understand sexuality and reproduction, as well as the risks of unprotected sex.... The curriculum starts out clinically at around age 6, when children learn about anatomy, eggs, and sperm. From age 12 on, the topics lean more toward disease and contraception. The classes have a moral dimension, as well: Sex within loving relationships is stressed, as is gender equality.
The message seems to work: The rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease in Sweden are among the world's lowest. Sweden's teenage birthrate is 7 per 1,000 births, compared with 49 in the United States. Among 15-to-19-year-olds, reported cases of gonorrhea in the United States are nearly 600 times as great on a per capita basis.
Is it possible that the United States will ever become this reasonable about sexuality education? There is now hope for a federal sexuality education program that, for the first time ever, would do more than teach abstinence. See Federal REAL Act Would Establish First Federal Sex Ed Program.