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5 topics that need to be taught in sex education immediately

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Most students receive some level of education about sex, either through biology classes, sex education classes or through PSHE (Personal, social and health education).

While topics including addiction, anatomy and sexually transmitted diseases are all typically discussed, other key topics are often not spoken about, despite their ability to significantly impact students decision making and health. These include topics such as contraceptives, consent, sexuality, sex versus gender, relationships, mental health and more.

Here are 5 topics that need to be added to or spoken about more in all sex education curriculums:

1. More Contraceptives

One thing that gets overlooked in most sex education classes is the fact that there are more contraceptives than just condoms. While condoms are important, they are only 85% effective, meaning 15/100 women each year will get pregnant. There are many other forms of birth control that woman can use such as an IUD, birth control pills, and birth control shots. This is important because getting pregnant can have a huge impact on someone's future. According to the Office for National Statistics, teens in the UK have high rates of pregnancy, STD’s, and high rates of bullying, which has an especially negative impact on the LGBTQIAP+ community involved.

2. Comprehensive Sex education, not abstinence education

An unfortunate number of sex education classes refer to abstinence either at the end of the class or throughout its entirety. Yet, there are many studies that show a comprehensive sex education class helps students make better decisions and stay healthier, in comparison to abstinence education classes. A study done by the Journal of Adolescent Health concluded that comprehensive sex education did not increase sexual activity, instead, it lowered the risk of pregnancy compared to students who received abstinence education. Meanwhile, a study done in Poland showed that no sex education resulted in a huge increase in teen pregnancies.

3. Relationships

Relationships are rarely touched upon in sex education, however, it is important for students, no matter how young they are, to learn about aspects of a healthy relationship. These include what an abusive relationship looks like and how to navigate different types of relationships, both good and bad. Mashable reports that it is important to teach people about relationships because women need to know that sexual violence is not their fault. It is not only important to inform children about sexual violence and abusive relationships, but also on healthy relationships and what constitutes that.

4. Mental Health

There is a significant relationship between mental health and sexual health. It was reported by Red Aware that people with mental health issues who are not being treated are more likely to make poor choices, especially when these choices involve sex. Mental health is also not often taught in high school and secondary school classes, which makes very little sense considering so many people are affected by it.

It is very likely that you or someone you know has a mental illness, yet it is highly stigmatized and is considered taboo to talk about in some situations. If children are educated on different prevalent mental health issues it could help them tremendously, as it could prepare them in case they or a friend ever struggle with such issues. Additionally, such education could potentially lessen, or even end, the stigma around mental health and increase public understanding and support. While this issue is not entirely related to sex, it is still an issue which can affect choices regarding sex and relationships, and thus should be suitably covered in all sex education and health classes.

5. Sex, Sexuality, and Gender

Many people are unable to define the differences between sex, gender, and sexuality. This can be harmful to people in the LGBTQIAP+ community, as they are not represented or understood by peers. A good way to remember it is that sex is your biological features, sexuality is who you want to go to bed with, and gender is who you go to bed as. Not only do many children not know the difference, but children that are part of the LQBTQIAP+ community are not taught about safe sex and how it works for them. The Huffpost published an article containing several important reasons for education on such a topic, including the fact that the LGBTQIAP+ community accounts for 33% of youth suicides. Additionally, they wrote about the importance of validating everyone's sex, sexuality, and gender, and issues surrounding homophobia and transphobia.

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