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Should “abstinence only” education be legal?

In the current political climate, many issues are not only hard to approach, but are nearly impossible to bridge. The ever increasing polarization of political parties makes bipartisanship a thing of the past. However, just because many of these topics are taboo, doesn’t make them any less significant. One of the issues that need to be addressed soon is the idea of abstinence only sex education.

Because education and curriculum are left to the states, there are no federal mandates regarding sexual education. According to Planned Parenthood, only 24 states require that sex education is provided in schools. Planned Parenthood further states that of those 24 states, only 13 require that the material taught is medically accurate. Here is where the numbers get a little bit more nerve-racking. Furthermore, these same statistics site that 37 states require abstinence to be taught within sex education, yet only 18 require teaching or mentioning any form of birth control. So with those numbers in mind, we can begin to sift through this rather complex issue of sex education.

Abstinence suggests that the only way to truly have safe sex is to abstain from sex to begin with. While in theory this is true, it fails to mention other ways to engage in sexual activity not only safely, but with proper consent. It is because of this that we must ask ourselves at what point does withholding information interfere with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Take for instance a hypothetical situation in which because of a lack of knowledge of proper sexual education and reproduction, an individual contracts a life-threatening disease. This disease is perfectly preventable, and would have been taught had sexual education been mandated. Would you then be compliant in depriving someone of their constitutional afforded rights? Even in the best case scenario in which most states teach accurate sex education (which we know isn’t true), even a few states allowing this misinformation to be spread should be held accountable.

Perhaps for many the argument leaves a poor taste in their mouth. Perhaps as a society we’ve become too polarized in our beliefs to allow ourselves to hear other sides of the story. However, it’s no longer just at the cost of our own egos. The next generation is at stake. In my opinion, preventable diseases should have no place in the 21st century — sexual in nature or not. It is no longer an argument of opinion, rather it’s an argument public safety and of life and death. I worry for a future in which society, so blinded by its own ego, is willing to allow previously cured diseases to take hold once more.


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