NY Times: "Sex Education Based on Abstinence? There's a Real Absence of Evidence"

A recent NY Times article explores the policy of abstinence only sex education as driven by politics.  Aaron E. Carroll explains that the current administration has deviated from funding sex education programs that are effective based on evidence outcomes.  Although federal support for abstinence based education had increased in the past administrations, the requirement for sex education to be taught in schools had actually fallen "to 48 percent from 67 percent."  

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Abstinence-Only Education is Unethical

According to NPR, Abstinence-only sex education is unethical and ineffective in reducing rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.   Laura Lindberg of Guttmacher Institute notes "that abstinence-only education programs don't succeed in reducing rates of teen pregnancies or STDs."  In fact, Lindberg states that the approach "have little demonstrated efficacy in helping adolescents to delay intercourse".

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Question Box

Question Box

We got this absolutely priceless question from a young boy in a class not long ago; the lesson
was on the changes of puberty, and in a room full of uncomfortable looking 10 and 11
year-olds, he raised his hand, looking confused. “So if having a period is where the body just,
like . . . flushes that stuff out . . . does that mean, like, is . . . menstruation . . . like having...diarrhea?”

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"The Fosters" addresses inclusive sex education--& More Than Sex-Ed is there to help!

"The Fosters" addresses inclusive sex education--& More Than Sex-Ed is there to help!

Our co-founder and facilitator, Emmalinda, was contacted by the writers for The Fosters on what an inclusive sex education might look like.  Emmalinda discussed a variety of ideas that eventually made it into the two episode story arc.  These ideas are non-binary language, safe space.

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The case for starting sex education in Kindergarten

"You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class. In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education."

In the Netherlands, comprehensive sex education requires all primary students to have "some form of sexuality education".  Ranging from 4 to 11 years old, the students are taught a variety of topics that include sexual preference, body awareness, intimacy and gender roles.  This sex education also seeks to educate and protect the students on the topics of sexual abuse, intimidation and other harmful practices.  

"The underlying principle is straightforward: Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject."

The approach made by the Dutch government has produced "some of the best outcomes when it comes to teen sexual health."  According to Rutgers WPF, only 1 out of 10 Dutch adolescent do not use contraceptives the first time they have sex.  It is also important to note that the Netherlands also have one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world. 

Unlike the Netherlands, comprehensive sex education has not been implemented in the United States.  According to Guttmacher, half of the states in the union require abstinence as the main form of sex education.  This narrow focus "on minimizing the risk of pregnancy and STDs from heterosexual intercourse" translates into many millennials acknowledging that their sex education "was not helpful".  The Dutch curriculum for comprehensive sex education provides compelling evidence on the importance of having a well rounded education. It's time to seriously consider comprehensive sex education here in the states.

At More than Sex-Ed, the ability to have a frank and trustworthy discussion about sexual development is one of our core principles.  To learn more about our core principles, please check out morethansex-ed.org!  

 

In a Heartbeat: Do you remember your first crush?

The butterflies in your stomach, a racing heart and utter speechlessness, the film produced by Beth David and Esteban Bravo, perfectly captures the feelings of having a crush.  What the duo from Ringling College of Art and Design managed to convey was not only the emotions of seeing a crush but also "the experience of countless LGBTQ youth".  The film is about "a young boy struggling to come to terms with his feelings for a handsome peer" and the emotions present is relatable across all boundaries.  

At More Than Sex Ed, we understand that communication is vital to a healthy relationship.  Although it can be hard to talk to your crush, More than Sex-Ed provides workshops that are supportive of relationship communication for kids and teens.  To learn more about workshops, check out our website at morethansex-ed.org ! 

What West Virginia can teach us about comprehensive sex education

"Of every eight babies that were born in West Virginia, one was born to a teen mother."

PBS Newshour reports on the rising trend of teen pregnancy and birth rates in West Virginia and how, surprisingly, it has led to comprehensive sex education.  Although the trend across the nation has been declining, the exact opposite is happening in West Virginia.  As of May, West Virginia "has the eighth highest teen birth rate of the fifty states."

Here at More than Sex-Ed, we support the comprehensive sex education taking place in West Virginia.  As studies have shown, traditional sex education is not effective in reducing teen pregnancy and birth rates. That is why it is now more important than ever to implement comprehensive sex education in our schools.  

 

 

Warning : Teen Pregnancy Programs Defunded!

Programs geared towards preventing teen pregnancy, amounting up to $213 million dollars, have been defunded by the Trump Administration. 

 

The US Department of Health and Human Services have decided to end the grants given out by the last administration for programs "designed to find scientifically valid ways to help teenagers make healthy decisions that avoid unwanted pregnancies."  The move towards abstinence focused programs instead follow the stance Secretary Tom Price supports.  Over 80 institutions nationwide will lose funding for programs that seek to lower the teen pregnancy rates.  The unprecedented decision to stop funding of long term projects immediately have shocked many researchers who noted the action to be "highly unusual and wasteful". 

"More than a quarter of U.S. girls become pregnant by 20."

Although the rate of teen pregnancy in the states is high relative to other industrialized nations, the defunding of programs may potentially slow the trend of declining teen birth rates in America.  Researchers and project leaders noted that the decision to cancel all funding immediately came from the recently appointed chief of staff, Valerie Huber.  Huber's past work with pro-abstinence programs reaffirms the shocking decision to end grants for research is driven by personal agenda and not by scientific research.  

The current administration is flagrantly denying the data and aggressively cutting the educational outreach that has been proven to work!  Here at More than Sex-Ed, we support the teens that need these programs and services.  If you would like help donate to support programs and services that help reduce the teen birth rates, please click on this link.  Your recurring donation allows us to continue research and projects that help teens. 

Teen Pregnancy: A Surprising New Study!

A recent published study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  shows that use of contraception among teens has led to "a historic low" in teen pregnancy rates in the States. 

 

"The teen pregnancy and birth rate dropped to 22.3 births per 1,000 teens in 2015, compared to a whopping 62 births per 1,000 in 1991. "

Other interesting finding from the study mentions that among sexually active teens the most popular form of contraception used were condoms.  When analyzing a report put together by the Guttmacher Institute, consistent condom use has increased among teens "from 46.2% to 63%".   Although it is easy to conclude that the increased access to condoms in high schools is the cause of the decline, one case study reveals the complexity of this issue.  The Atlantic published an article noting that condom access without sex education can increase teen pregnancy rates.  It is important to mention that other forms of contraception, specifically long term intrauterine devices, led to lower rates of teen pregnancy. 

We at More than Sex-ed believe that it is healthiest for young teens to postpone sex.  When studies show that abstinence only sex education do not delay sexual activity, it is time to consider comprehensive sex education that also includes contraception.

     

What's Happening to My Body?

Here at More Than Sex-Ed, we believe that kids can learn to be responsible for their sexuality without shame. 

When a child asks "What's happening to my body?", they deserve to have their question answered accurately.  And while we know that not every kid going through puberty fits neatly into a standard binary gender box of either pink or blue, as of now, publishers have not stepped up with material that addresses the true level of diversity to include trans and intersex identities. In the meantime, More Than Sex-Ed would love to talk with your group of parents about the fantastic diversity of human sexual identity and help you find accurate language to use with your kids.

 But if you need a book right now with reliable information regarding puberty,  here is a list of book recommendations, with the caveat that you will also need to say that not all boys have penises, and not all girls have vulvas, clitorises, uteruses, and vaginas. And you should recognize that it's healthy for kids to know about puberty in bodies that are different from their own.

The bestselling series "What's Happening to My Body? : Book for Boys/Girls" by Lynda Madaras, Area Madaras, and Simon Sulivan provides a vast amount of information ranging from body hair, growth spurts, to romantic feelings.  With "detailed illustrations and real-life stories throughout, plus an introduction for parents and a helpful resource section," this book is a must have for parents.  

For parents of people with ovaries and uteruses in their household, "Period. A Girls' Guide" by JoAnn Loulan, Bonnie Worthen, Marcia Quackenbush, and Chris Wold Dyrud can help start the dialogue around menstruation.  Although this text "use diagrams to familiarize readers with the inner workings of their bodies, including what happens during menstruation", it does not discuss puberty and sexuality as thoroughly as "What's Happening to My Body".  This book is focused specifically on the topic of menstruation.  

Lastly, "The Caring and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls" by Cara Natterson and Josee Masse is a helpful resource book for kids ages 10 and older.  Published by American Girl, this book discusses "the physical and emotional changes" as well as peer pressure and personal care.  This book, like the other recommendations, promotes responsible education about sexuality without shame.    

For more book recommendations on puberty and sexuality, please check out the More Than Sex-Ed Blog! 

 

Puberty: It's Perfectly Normal and Other Book Recommendations

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One of our core values here at More Than Sex-ed is that "knowledge is power and kids have the right to have their questions answered."

For parents who are having trouble starting the dialogue on this topic, here are some book recommendations that make it easier to begin that conversation.  

"It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie Harris is a critically acclaimed book that "offers young people the real information they need to make responsible decisions that can help them stay healthy as they approach and experience puberty and adolescence." 

Another great title is "Will Puberty Last My Whole Life?" by Julie Metzger, RN, MN, and Robert Lehman, MD . This flip book offers "Straightforward, age-appropriate answers to REAL questions from preteens." 

Lastly, "Sex is a Funny Word" by Corey Silverberg has been described by Buzzfeed as "A Total Game-Changer" and "nothing short of revolutionary."  The text discusses not only puberty but consent, gender identity and body norms.   

Look for these books at your local bookstore or online vendor!  Tune in next week for more book recommendations on the topic of Puberty.