Sexual Education: Who Cares And Why? Essay, Research Paper
Sexual Education: Who Cares And Why
The range of beliefs on sex education is extremely broad and multi-sided. Religious, cultural, gender, and social factors intermix, affecting the way that these different groups believe and act. Most people take a conservative or moderate view on most points of the debate, and liberal views on other points. Very few reside at either extreme. The groups at each extreme are the ones to look at because they make it their goal to make people see their point of view, giving shape to the overall view of the subject. The amount of division near each extreme makes it very difficult to find a view with which the whole group can be happy.
Christian religions divide when it comes to how the Bible should be interpreted and what is right and wrong. Within each sect of religion, cultures, genders, and classes divide as to what is right and wrong and how children should be taught. Children from each class and culture grow up in different environments, affecting what and how they learn, inside and outside of school. People in one religion can have similar beliefs as those held by someone in another religion, but the religious differences make it difficult for them to unite in support of the belief.
Religion is the most notorious for associating sex with marriage. The Catholic Church stands the most firm on the idea sex should be confined to marriage. The Church says contraception blocks the presence of God in the sexual act and is therefore wrong. The Catholic Church stands behind the practice of abstaining from sex until marriage, limiting sexual education to instruction on anatomy and function. They believe there is no place for contraceptives in the education area, especially the open distribution of them. Use of contraceptives is a sign of disregard of the authority of the Catholic Church given to them by God. One problem Catholics see with sex education in public schools is that, “Sexual abstinence and modesty can be and are viewed as religious doctrines and thereby can be removed from the curriculum” (Sulaiman).
Religions have also been formed to cherish the sexual act. The religions based on sex will occasionally place sex as a form of worship to one’s partner. The Tantra Religion is, “a system of Hindu yoga in which the union of male and female principles is worshipped” and it considers sex without an orgasms to be “divine” (Yronwode). The Church of Tantra says practice “allows the participants to experience what seems to be — what IS, for all intents and purposes — the presence of deity in the person of the sex partner” (Yronwode). Similar religions teach members to prolong orgasms and heighten their sexual experience. Most religions like this do not care why the sex is occurring, who it is occurring with, or how it is happening as long as it is enjoyed. Contraceptives are a tool used throughout the process of life. It is important to find a partner and prevent pregnancy or disease after finding that partner. They generally support abortion, which is a controversial issue involved in sexual education. For them it is not a matter of choice, but a matter of necessity. They support contraceptives in schools because contraceptives give children the ability to have sex and search for their most compatible partner.
Contraceptives have been discussed and distributed in schools for many years. Each year, officials of organizations like Planned Parenthood and the National Education Association push for condoms to be distributed to children at younger ages, as children are reaching puberty at younger ages. The more children who know about contraceptives, the more questions and problems the children will have with them. The National Education Association says the following about sex education, “Teachers and health professionals must be qualified to teach in this area and must be legally protected from censorship and lawsuits” (B-36). If the preceding is granted to the teachers, they will have more power and influence. The National Education Association benefits from these programs because more money is given to the teachers, its members, and more positions are needed to teach the classes.
School officials and lawmakers are lobbied by many outside organizations, which are trying to have sex education courses for everyone. One of these organizations, Planned Parenthood, helps to counsel children about sex, diseases, and pregnancy. One of the main goals for Planned Parenthood is, “to provide educational programs which enhance understanding of individual and societal implications of human sexuality” (”Mission and Policy Statements”). Distribution of contraceptives is considered a vital part of completing their mission. Condoms are the most frequently used and distributed form of contraception.
Condoms are sold and distributed all over the United States. Many restrooms in gas stations and convenience stores have condom vending machines. All levels of school from elementary to high school and college distribute condoms to students as part of sex education programs. Planned Parenthood and other organizations buy condoms and then distribute them to people who ask for them. These organizations believe that after a person has been given a condom and the condom has worked, they will be more likely to buy condoms and use them. Condom manufacturers make money from all these sources, even if they have given some away. The Trojan Condoms website has the offer for one free condom, which they discretely mail to anyone claiming to be 18 years old. Their slogan is, “Be a Trojan man,” encouraging recipients of the free condoms to use Trojan Condoms the next time (”The Guide to Sex and Love: Trojan Condoms”). This goes back to the idea that if something works once, one is likely to try it again.
Support for the distribution of contraceptives, outside of businesses who will obviously profit from their sales, comes from people who believe that children are going to have sex as soon as they are ready, no matter what they are taught. The argument is made that they are caring for the health of all people by preventing disease. The Naral Foundation is an organization pushing for sex education in schools that is ongoing, saying that informed people will make good decisions. The website for the Naral Foundation contains the following about sex education, “Real freedom of choice means having the best information possible to make the decision that’s right for you. One of the reasons that our country is facing a serious reproductive health crisis among young Americans is because we have not given enough attention to effective sexuality education in our schools” (Contraception and Education). According to the Durex Global Aids Survey from November 29, 1997, “Only 13 percent of Americans surveyed said they practice safer sex by using a condom every time” (”STD’s Statistics”). Similar statistics give organizations good reason to push for safer sex, blaming the lack of condom use on the number of people with sexually transmitted diseases.
Many people tell themselves that they should be able to do whatever they want without having to worry about the consequences. Contraceptives are just what these people need. You can have sex without pregnancy or disease, at least part of the time if using the most popular method, condoms. Since the children are going to have sex anyway, it is the job of adults to encourage it by providing the children a means to “safe sex.” The school is the ideal place to give children the education on sex because they are required to attend school. They believe the parents no longer have the time, nor do they have the proper information, nor beliefs about sex. In part E-9 of their 1998-99 Resolutions, the National Education Association says, “Controversial issues should be a part of the instructional program,” but later says, “The Association further believes that legislation and regulations that mandate or permit the teaching of religious doctrines and/or groups that promote anti-public education agendas violate both student and teacher rights” (E-9). This statement is hypocritical because it says there is a need for controversial issues in schools, but that religious issues should not be included in the discussion because they are controversial.
Schools in general have mixed opinions about sex education. The private schools have to worry about hiring more staff to provide what the National Education Association deems necessary to be taught within their schools. The public schools benefit from the programs through the allocation of moneys they would otherwise not receive. Some public schools, in areas where teen pregnancy and disease is not a problem, do not want sex education to enter their classrooms. They believe the sexual education will push more children to have sex at younger ages, causing pregnancy and disease levels to rise.
Within each of the groups that have been mentioned, there are both men and women. By nature, men and women think differently, act differently, and respond differently. Men usually respond best to visual stimuli, making pictures or the actual experience the best teacher. Women, on the other hand, learn best from talking about things. They are verbal and best express themselves verbally. The difference in learning techniques creates division in the ranks of each gender. Some women want girls to learn with boys, in order for them to have discussion and exchange information. Other women want the girls and boys to be separated because of the typical male reaction to the naked anatomy and the general loss of comfort associated with a discussion of sex between males and females.
How do the religious, gender, economic, and social views pan out politically? Conservatives are usually associated with the religious right. Conservatives are also associated with the Republican party. The Republican National Committee Platform stands for, “abstinence education programs,” (Major…) making them against comprehensive sex education. The Liberal side of things, or the left wing, is associated with the Democratic Party. The Democratic National Committee Platform stands for, “comprehensive family life education” (Major…) and claims to be the advocate for oppressed and underrepresented people in the United States.
Is there a middle ground which can be found amongst all these groups? Will conservative Christians give in to allowing masturbation as long as it is accompanied by prayer? Will unprotected sex be considered acceptable if the act takes place in the presence of God? I doubt any of this will occur any time soon. One thing is for sure, each time a group is brought together on one point of the sexual education debate, they will more than likely disagree on 10 other points. When a group is asked why it feels the way it does, the questioner will only find the response to be an idea that leads to many more ideas. It is hard to find a large group who have the same beliefs when it comes to sexual education, but it is nearly impossible to find a large group with the same reasoning behind their beliefs.