BlockedUnblock FollowFollowing The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States has been advocating for the sexual health and rights of all people for over 50 years. We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We have the right to an education. We have the right to bodily safety. But there is one right that people often overlook: The right to have a complete and accurate understanding of sex and sexuality. When we look at conversations around sexuality education for young people, we typically point to statistics for justification.
They deserve it because they are human beings, and humans have a right to the knowledge and skills they need to lead healthy lives and to make the decisions that are best for them. Unfortunately, many young people are denied their right to sexuality education every day due to a lack of access. Only 29 states and the District of Columbia mandate sexuality education in schools , and 31 states require any sex ed offered to stress abstinence — often withholding vital information students need to stay healthy.
Additionally, a shocking 21 states have no requirements that sexuality education be age-appropriate, medically accurate, culturally appropriate, or evidence-based.
Similar rights-based thinking is used in making the argument for safe and legal abortion. Hundreds of thousands of reproductive rights advocates marched earlier this year espousing this very sentiment. Without the right to safe, legal, accessible abortion, people are unable to control if, when, and under what circumstances they give birth. But much like sexuality education, the right to abortion is often stymied by a lack of or restricted access.
As of , 90 percent of counties in the U. There are millions of reasons why a person might choose to have an abortion. As human beings, we have varying opinions, values, beliefs, and desires. But we deny them that right when we withhold information that allows them to fully understand the decisions they may make regarding sexual health.
Sure, we could point to studies and stats when making the case for comprehensive sexuality education — because they are plentiful. But, a rights-based approach to comprehensive sexuality education in schools should be a no-brainer. Much like other forms of education or training — where we aim to provide people with as much information as possible — it just makes sense.
No matter who you are or how you drive, there are potential risks associated with driving a car, but no one expects you to avoid driving altogether because of them. And while accidents are possible, there are certain steps we take as a society to mitigate risks.
Sure, there are potential risks associated with engaging in sexual activity no matter who you are or how you have sex. People enjoy sex, and in addition to allowing us to reproduce in the context of penis-in-vagina sex , it brings with it myriad social, emotional, and physical benefits. But above all else, sexuality is a fundamental part of being human. Driving is a privilege that people enjoy, while sex is an integral part of life that everyone has a right to fully understand.
But the basics stand. Similarly, most people will have sex in their lifetimes, and sex ed should be an obvious accompaniment. Saying that young people need sexuality education just to prevent unintended pregnancy and STIs is a disservice. Young people deserve to fully understand their bodies and the potential outcomes of any sexual decision they may or may not make. We should be following in the footsteps of reproductive health, rights, and justice activists. I, for one, want to be part of a nation that equips its emerging leaders with all the tools possible for success — whatever that means for them.