Making Sex Ed Effective

Making Sex Ed Effective

Sex education is approached differently around the world. In Paris there’s a science museum with exhibits designed to teach 9-14-year-olds about sexuality: When kissing, it advises, “turn your head sideways, especially if you’ve got a big nose.” In the Netherlands, mandatory sex education begins in elementary school and covers respect for people who are transgender, bisexual or gay.

In the U.S. and Canada, there’s more debate and discomfort about the topic -- but researchers from the University of British Columbia and City College of the City University of New York have found that to minimize the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies, addressing issues that concern lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) kids, as well as heterosexual teens, is essential.

That’s because, depending on sexual orientation, the time of first sexual encounter, differs widely. For example lesbians have an earlier sexual debut than other girls and are less likely to talk to their partner about practicing safe sex (32 percent did) than heterosexual girls (79 percent). Tailoring sex ed to just one group can leave many in harm’s way.

A study from the University of Pittsburgh also found that places with the most school programs and policies that support LBGT kids have less binge-drinking among students, regardless of sexual orientation. The researchers say that’s because schools that are more affirming of LGBT students are less stressful environments for all kids.

Seems a well-rounded approach to sexual education can cut down on STDs, teen pregnancy rates, and dangerous drinking behavior. That’s using real protection!

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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