Carrie discusses her frustrations with what she witnesses as a teacher in a small eastern Kentucky school when it comes to teens and how they view pregnancy. Carrie is discouraged by her inability to help in a broader sense than providing advice for those teens who ask for her input. See also EKRHP’s films on Teen and Unintended Pregnancy.
Sexuality education refers to the information necessary to make informed decisions about one’s sexual and reproductive health. Some young people receive information about sexuality and reproduction from their parents or other family members, while others rely on school or other outside entity to provide this information. Because of the continued stigma around openly discussing sexuality, many people reach young adulthood without a clear understanding of the biological, physical, emotional, or social aspects of sexuality and reproduction.
There are various approaches to sexuality education for youth. Some are based on an abstinence-only-until-marriage approach and others vary along the spectrum of providing medically-accurate information regarding human sexuality, pregnancy- and disease prevention, and forms of contraception. The federal government invested substantial amounts of funding in abstinence-only education starting in the early 1980s. Although research has not shown such programs to be effective in delaying sexual activity , funding has continued to support this programming in Kentucky and other states. Some states have refused to accept abstinence-only funding because of this lack of evidence of success.
In Kentucky, all public schools must offer sexuality, sexually-transmitted infections, and HIV and AIDS education. These courses must cover abstinence, but they do not have to cover contraception. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, communities throughout the commonwealth provide the following sexuality education programs :
1. Community Work-Groups and Coalitions: Workgroups convened by local health
departments, including social services, schools, youth service centers, clergy, elected offices, medical community, parents, teens to discuss strategies to reduce teen pregnancy.
2. Direct Community Grants for Abstinence Education: Communities apply
through local health department for projects that meet the abstinence education legislation priorities as stated in federal 1996 Welfare Law; purpose is to create strong partnerships among public and private community agencies, parents, schools, and the faith community to teach school-age children the value of sexual abstinence.
3. Postponing Sexual Involvement (PSI): School-based curriculum designed for
junior high/middle school students; 5 sessions are taught by peer educators and trained high school students; PSI is abstinence-based and does not include any information about contraceptives.
4. Reducing the Risk: School-based program (16 one-hour sessions) focusing on
avoiding unprotected intercourse either through abstinence as the 100% safe method or with proper contraceptive use.
54% of Kentucky schools teach abstinence-only or abstinence-plus use of condoms for disease-prevention
Comprehensive sexuality education is taught in 33% of Kentucky schools
Six percent teach only about STI and HIV; and 7% do not teach any form of sexuality education
Evaluations of abstinence-only programs find that such programs show little to no long-term effect on attitudes, no delay of sexual initiation, and some may actually decrease youth’s use of contraception thereby increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections
Did you receive any type of sexuality education in school? What grade and what type of sex education did you receive?
Did your parents talk to you about sex?
What do you wish you had been told about sexuality, your body, and reproduction when you were growing up?
Do you think sexuality education is important? Why or why not?
Are there things you feel you still need to learn as an adult about sexuality and reproduction?
Resources and Links:
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)
National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education