As you are preparing your teens for the new school year, you should know that they may learn about sexual health during the upcoming school year! What many parents may not know is that sex education, also known as “sex ed”, varies widely from one state to another and often from one school district to another.
If sex education is offered in your tween/teen’s school, it often includes information on puberty, male and female anatomy, and reproduction. It might include a discussion about strategies to avoid pregnancy (like condoms, hormonal birth control methods and birth control devices). It might also include information about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It may also only include discussions about abstinence and little else.
Fiona Tapp wrote an article for Parents.com about what young people are learning in school-based sex ed programs, and changes to the sex ed curriculum over the years. She discusses how information about same-sex relationships, healthy relationships, consent, and information about different forms of contraception have increasingly been covered in schools. The more your teen understands about their bodies, their sexuality, and their options when it comes to sex and protecting themselves, the less likely they are to engage in risky sexual behaviors.
Do you think your school district is doing a good job at teaching your teen about sex? Whether your answer is “yes” or “no”, make sure to start and/or continue these conversations at home. Share resources with your teens, create an open environment for questions, and lead by example by being a good role model for them. It is important to communicate with your teen about how learning about sex and reproductive health is a lifelong process. Use teachable moments to help you start these conversations. These are moments that come up in everyday life that allow you to start conversations with your teen. For example, a TV show or movie you watch together might bring up an opportunity to start a conversation about sex and protection.
If you want to learn more about sex education in schools, click here: https://www.parents.com/kids/education/sex-education-in-schools-heres-what-your-kid-is-learning/