In states where sex education is not mandated, there tends to be a higher number of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
In many parts of the country, sex education is a standard part of the public-school curriculum. So much so, that many people just take it for granted as something that will be taught to young people as they grow up and learn about the world. In some places, like Tennessee, that education is not mandated, leading to an education problem lacking adequate information and resources, which can lead to serious consequences.
There are notable harms that are experienced when young people don’t receive proper education on sexual health. Comparing outcomes for young people from states where this sex education problem is not an issue versus states in which it is, the differences are evident.
Tennessee has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy throughout the country. Unfortunately, a high rate of pregnancy in teenagers is correlated to many different negative outcomes later in life, including unemployment and poverty. If improving sex education programs could directly impact the teen pregnancy rate, it is likely that those individuals who are protected would be much better off for years to come.
If sex education is going to be as effective and as beneficial as it can be, it is important that the curriculum focuses on science and medicine, rather than taking input from other areas. Programs that focus on abstinence only have been proven time and again to be ineffective, yet those are often the kinds of programs that are used in Tennessee and other states with similar issues. Poor sex education is not only connected to teen pregnancy, but also to a higher likelihood of becoming a victim of intimate partner violence.
For all of the negative impacts of not getting sex education in school, there are just as many positive benefits when it is delivered. Studies have shown that many negative outcomes go down, such as the rates of sexually transmitted diseases, along with other factors. Also, young people who need LGBTQ-related information are more likely to get what they need to make choices about their lives when education is presented openly and honestly.
Sex education is going to continue to be a hotly debated topic in some places, and children in certain parts of the country are likely going to continue to not get the information they need to make informed choices in their lives. Continued activism may be able to make progress in this area, but it will also run into persistent forces on the other side that wish to keep this kind of information out of schools.