The Value of Comprehensive Sex Ed
Sex education needs to cover more than anatomy and infections
By River Huckleberry Kero
Comprehensive adult sex education is vital for the safety and wellbeing of every person, especially young adults.
Gaps in sex education can lead to difficulties for mental and physical health.
Action Canada states that comprehensive sex education can help reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted infections, the rates of unplanned pregnancies, and sexual abuse.
Some organizations such as ParentsVoice BC, which ran candidates in the November 2022 civic elections, have expressed concern about overexposing their children to sexuality and wish to censor their children’s education.
However, comprehensive sex education has been shown to lead to less risk-taking behaviour and an increased use of condoms and contraception, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
This wisdom applies not only to teenagers, but also to young adults. Sex education helps counter cultural myths that may have been harboured by young people, such as how it’s impossible to get someone pregnant while they are on their period.
What’s the status in B.C.?
In B.C., the sex ed curriculum is age-appropriate for children from kindergarten to Grade 12. Five-year-olds learn about respectful behaviour and safety, whereas students in high school learn about infections, how to use condoms, and more.
Our societal understanding of sex is constantly evolving, with new research and studies coming out every year. For example, the Kinsey Institute is currently conducting research on how COVID-19 affected sexual relationships.
Sex education from a decade ago is now severely outdated.
According to the 2013 B.C. Adolescent Health Survey by the McCreary Centre Society, “Students felt sex education often focussed too much on the mechanics of sex and should include information about STI prevention and contraception as well as sexual assault,” as well as expressing desire for sex education to begin in elementary school.
In the years since, many schools have made strides in exploring LGBTQ+ curriculums and healthy relationships, starting from early elementary school.
Additionally, sex education can assist in uplifting mental wellbeing.
Those who experience things that are culturally considered “abnormal” — including queer experiences, low libido, or unusual fantasies — can be assured that what they are experiencing is normal, or even common.
Adults need more than just the basics
Proper sex education for adults can evolve as people age. In adulthood, the challenges and experiences can be very different from those faced in childhood, and sex education must grow to fit those changes.
Many topics in sex education, such as BDSM and kink, are either not appropriate or applicable to younger audiences. Adult sex education can plug the gaps left by high school health curriculums.
Accessibility to sex education in youth is not always the reality, and easy access to comprehensive adult sex education can help to spare many adults from being hurt, feeling broken, or engaging in risk-taking behaviour.
Comprehensive sex education can lead to healthier relationships as well as physical and mental wellbeing. Additionally, sex is fascinating but the psychology and physicality of it is rarely discussed beyond mechanical details. There is a great deal to learn about how human bodies work, how desire works, and why sex even exists.
Unlike calculus or the anatomy of frogs, sex education is relevant to every single person, and knowledge of sex should continue to develop past high school. After all, every person has genitals and will likely use them at some point, but I can comfortably say that I’ve forgotten how to solve for “x” and I don’t plan to relearn it.