By: Karley Bailey
Let’s talk about sex… Sexual education, and more specifically sex-ed in the Tustin Unified School District. Sex-ed can be received either through adult guidance or experimentation through experience. However, this isn’t always the most accurate way of learning about sex. Experiencing sex through the act itself will inform a person, but finding out this way can at times lead to unsafe experimentation. The truth is, the majority of the student body within Tustin Unified, are knowledgeable about the subject of sex. Sex is everywhere; The media, television, movies, and advertisements are ever-present within our 21st century society. The exposure of sex is inevitable to children in all aspects of their lives. Although supposedly knowledgeable about sex, an extremely large amount of Tustin Unified students continue to remain unaware of the countless contraceptives available as well as remaining oblivious to the consequences of unsafe sex. TUSD is one of the few districts in Orange County that do not implement sexual education as mandatory curriculum. So why not?
By California State Law, it is not mandatory for high schools to offer sex-ed. TUSD has made the choice to not offer this type of education in their high schools. Although they do offer human growth and development education to fifth graders, as well as middle schoolers, this education stops once students reach high school. Contraceptive options and concepts such as the reproductive systems are briefly looked over in TUSD high school biology classes. Inevitably though, many high schoolers are still left with lingering questions that they fear to ask adults or even their friends for fear of judgment. In the cases where they do ask their friends, they are often times left with false information. This lack of guidance, at worst, leads to unplanned pregnancy or even the spread of sexually transmitted disease. Contrastingly, some students are not yet at the level of maturity to appropriately handle the concepts exposed to them. Of course, there are always sources that are easily available to any student, such as the internet. The internet, though, always has the possibility to be inaccurate, and with the information given, from uninformed sources. Because of this, it can be difficult for a teenager to comprehend and make sense of all the information pushed at them.
The apparent reason for not including sex-ed in the curriculum at Tustin Unified high schools is the presence of protective parents. It is often time in their nature for parents to want to protect their children from what they view as concepts far, far ahead of them. They choose to protect their children in the best ways they can. The harsh reality for these parents can be illustrated through senior John Egbert’s experience, “I was first [exposed] to pornography in fifth grade; chain emails were really big back then, so I got an email from some older kids and there were naked women everywhere.” We are the generation of technology. This technology can be extremely beneficial to the learning environment, but it can also be used to expose us earlier to inappropriate ideas. There has been an enormous proliferation of sex in the media, television, movies, and music. This also tends to expose children earlier without parental knowledge. The early exposure to sex is inevitable in the new age of instant gratification and mass information. Growing up with these environmental factors, it is nearly impossible to start middle school without knowing at least something about sex, “Going into sixth grade everybody was just talking and talking about sex,” is what Sophomore Sagel Simon remembers.
In a country wide survey recorded in 2013 by ReCAPP, (Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention) 47% of high school students reported to having sexual intercourse. Nearly one half of the students admitted to participating in some type of sexual activity such as oral sex or anal sex. This leaves the question, how many actually used protection? ReCAPP states that condoms were used by 63% of 9th graders, 62% of 10th-11th graders, and only 53% of 12th graders during their last sexual encounter, and 19% said that either they or their partner used birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. These statistics prove that abstinence is not a popular form of birth control. To a majority of the student body at Tustin High abstinence, condoms, and birth control pills are the only forms of contraceptive they are knowledgeable about. Due to the absence of sex-ed classes in the school district, along with other factors, students have not been exposed to other contraceptive options such as: IUDs, Nexplanon or Implanon implants, hormonal shots, female condoms, spermicide, vaginal rings, control rings, hormonal patches, morning-after pills, and others. Many female students do know about female birth control, but do not know how or where to obtain it. In consequence of this their partner can be hesitant about outside contraceptive use. As for enforcing sexual education in to the Tustin High Curriculum, that is up to to the Tustin Unified Board. There is a question whether or not it will be enforced in the future.
To find out more about contraceptives as well as sexual education please visit the websites below:
Edited by Kristina Ching