Currently, Wisconsin requires public schools to provide sex education, including lessons on effective forms of contraception. However, it is quickly facing change with the arrival of a new bill that challenges the necessity of those teachings. The proposed bill would allow local school districts to make sex education and teaching contraception optional. As with most bills placed on state ballots, the bill is bigger than Wisconsin; it is an issue that affects the education and growth of American citizens. News8000, a Wisconsin-based news company, released a statement by Senator Mary Lazich of Wisconsin’s Senate District 28: “It is not a mandate that human growth and development must be taught or not taught.” That mentality is taking a step back instead of looking forward and addressing the true needs of adolescents in America. Furthermore, in the wake of global over-population, why would sex education be optional? That makes zero sense.
Sex education in a classroom setting is essential to the healthy development of our nation’s youth. Understanding how the body functions is information that cannot be ignored, and if students aren’t receiving it at home, then it needs to come in an educational setting. Would you rather have students get their information from overheard conversations in the bathroom, or from a teacher in a classroom environment? I, for one, choose the latter.
Lazich authored the bill, including commentary that sex education needs to involve community input. “It leaves it in the hands of the school districts to decide whether to have a curriculum and if they do want to have a curriculum it gives the school districts the power to design that curriculum,” she wrote. What America needs are well-rounded and well-educated students and citizens, regardless of the district the students graduate from. All students should receive equal and universal education.
The new bill wouldn’t require schools to teach sex education and contraceptive methods, but if school districts were to decide to offer sex education in their curriculum, they would be required to teach abstinence as the only reliable method to preventing pregnancy and disease. Abstinence is a welcome method of birth control that can be taught alongside other lessons about contraception methods. Teaching about body function and maintaining a healthy sex life does not mean a certain lifestyle is encouraged or that one method of contraception is supported over another. Present the facts and leave the decision up to the individual.
The last thing the education system needs is inter-district turmoil and debate over whether sex education is necessary. The school board should see an opportunity to be a positive influence on the views of sex in young adults’ lives, possibly the only positive influence that students may encounter before making such an important life decision. Healthy relationships need to be taught by first building a positive relationship before engaging in a sexual relationship.
There is innocence and then there is ignorance, and teachers are not stripping students of their innocence by educating them about sex. Presented information is part of a comprehensive education and needs to be known in order to function as human beings. Therefore, by eliminating sex education, students are subjected to a state of ignorance that is dangerous for their health.
Students’ opinions of sex are changing with the media’s opinion of sex; therefore, the school system must also change in order to stay current and provide necessary information, as well as maintaining a positive influence.
By ignoring sex education the wrong message is sent to students. It sends the message that they should be embarrassed and ashamed of the subject, or worse, that the subject should be ignored and not discussed. I believe public schools have the right — and more importantly — the need to teach everything about topics that could involve health-related issues for students and for other youth. While we may not want to face the reality about sexual relationships among students, we can ignore the problem or we can face it directly in a manner that will benefit students.
You can call it “sensitive,” or whatever else you want, but the reality is that sex education should not be taught based on whether the district feels like it. It is a health issue that directly affects students. They should be informed.
By Elizabeth Reeves
Graphic By Eva Kiviranta