Last week, a bill passed the state House of Representatives mandating that abstinence be the only sex-ed curriculum taught in high school in Utah — if any curriculum is taught at all. The bill would put a stop to all instruction related to contraception.
In the Tooele County School District, it is commonly professed that nothing much will change since there was already an abstinence-only policy established.
However, after having taken health education classes in eighth and then 10th grade, I would beg to differ. Not only were we taught that abstinence is not the only prevention method used, but we were also educated on various methods of contraception. It was made perfectly clear that abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method of staying free from sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, but the curriculum was most certainly not abstinence-only.
I think the current method of teaching that abstinence is foolproof, while educating students on other means of contraception as well, is both advisable and helpful.
Let me clarify one point: I believe abstinence-only is the superior and singular method of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Teenagers should certainly be encouraged to maintain this standard and lifestyle. I do not believe that any alternate preventative method should be encouraged in any way, but students should be informed of the choices they have. They should be shown the risk, hear the real benefits of abstaining from sexual intercourse before marriage, but also have an understanding of safesex practices.
Knowledge is power. Learning the facts about various contraceptives in a healthy and educational environment is not a teaching method that promotes promiscuity. On the contrary, I think that when teachers openly explain the benefits of abstinence, and have statistics about other methods to back that up, it is a more effective way of promoting the best way: abstinence-only.
Regardless of courses we take in high school, or what we are encouraged to wonder about or discuss with the adults around us, teenagers are going to find out all of the nitty-gritty details involved in sex. When adults — namely teachers and parents or guardians — are up front with teens, and do not treat the subject as taboo, students are guaranteed to be more receptive to their advice. On the other hand, when those sorts of “mature subject matter” discussions are skirted around, or when adults persist in acting as though teens have no need for this information, all that results are curious, hormonal teenagers who will not hesitate to gather information from peers or the Internet.
Hot headed as we are, teenagers respond best to methods of teaching that are informative and receptive to our questions. Trying to totally conceal any alternate methods from us simply will not work. However, educating us on the downfalls of the other methods using facts will work. The truth about the effectiveness of abstinence is proven scientifically. When presented against other contraceptive methods, it will stand on its own as the only way that always works.
Siera Gomez is a junior at Stansbury High School.