In the wake of a growing problem of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, more and more parents are turning to schools, advocating for a return to sex education classes that will educate and inform students not just on not having sex, but also how to best protect themselves should they choose to have sex.
In some states like Utah, sex ed classes have become a lightening rod, with parents and educators arguing for more information on contraception for students, while religious groups intimidate them into sticking with abstinence only classes. And intimidation is used even in states that have made huge progress in mandating fact-based, age-appropriate comprehensive sex education, like in Wisconsin, where one District Attorney threatened teachers who implemented the state’s new Healthy Youth sex ed criteria with jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
But intimidation isn’t stopping numerous states from enacting legislation that requires schools to provide factual, comprehensive, age-appropriate sex ed classes. And now, thanks to Future of Sex Education, providing these classes could get even easier.
The Future of Sex Education (FoSE) is a collaborative project created by Advocates for Youth, Answer and SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States), intended to start a dialogue about sex education and how to promote classes into public schools. The site offers not only background information on how sex ed has evolved based on the political pressures of various administrations over time, but also how to advocate for comprehensive sex education within your own school districts, and what types of programs and information should be included in those classes.
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Conceived near the end of the Bush era, FoSE was born of three groups who made sex education their number one policy or program issue, strategizing how to transform education once the current administration left and a new, hopefully progressive administration entered the White House.
FoSE creators began brainstorming the site as early as 2007, imagining “A world free from abstinence-only education,” according to James Wagoner, President of Advocates for Youth. “We almost had that for a while in 2009, before it was snuck back in through healthcare reform.”
Now the site has launched with a goal of helping parents, policymakers and practitioners to advance science-based sex ed, via grants soon to be provided by the Department of Health and Human Services intended to reduce pregnancy and STI rates among teens.
“We will seek to change policy at the local level,” explained Wagoner, “and will focus our efforts on the federal money provided at that local level.”
To learn more about FoSE, go here.