March 23rd, 2023

The Importance of Comprehensive Sex Ed

I’m not sure what one political party’s fascination with underaged genitals is, but I can tell you one thing it isn’t based on, and that’s safety. Anti-trans healthcare laws, anti-abortion laws, book banning, and limiting diverse voices all are in opposition of what research shows to be best practices for making children safe in a developmentally appropriate way. One of the big issues in these made up culture wars is one side has no scientific backing to their claims. They are trying to police morality, not following science or data in any way, shape, or form. Information control is a big part of authoritarian leadership, whether it be in a cult or a fascist government. So, the way to combat this nonsense is with good education, based on peer-reviewed evidence from solid research. So, let’s look at one topic today, sex ed. The pitfalls of not having it, and the problems with it when it isn’t backed by science.

Sex ed is just what it sounds like, sexual education. It is about normal, natural human development. We often equate it with puberty, because that is when a lot of sex characteristics change for people, but healthy development is really looked at over the whole lifetime. Sure, a lot goes on during puberty, but puberty isn’t some lightswitch that turns on and suddenly we’re sexual creatures. Human genitals begin developing in utero, and again, development is really a lifelong process. So, comprehensive education can begin with that development in utero, everyone has the same parts, just arranged differently. The whole “only two genders” nonsense misses this point entirely, because as I’ve written about before, gender is a construct. So, in understanding sex as a biological issue, it’s disingenuous to skip that everyone starts from the same place. We all have the same parts, just arranged differently. What is the clitoris for some people starts out as the same bundle of nerves that becomes the penis glans for others. Ovaries and testicles develop from the same place, again, same parts, just arranged differently. And from this point, we can look at the human experience of sexual development. We can talk about biology, we can talk about sexual intercourse, safety and all that it entails, consent, hygiene, and the continuing development, because it’s not like bodies stop changing. A newborn body is changing differently than a body hitting puberty which is different significantly from a body in its 60s. So, again, to tie sex ed just to puberty is a huge disservice.  

Having comprehensive sex ed is tied to numerous positive outcomes. Fewer unwanted pregnancies, lowers risk of sexual violence, lower incidence of STIs, and increased body positivity. Like, just on the data behind those items listed, this should really be a non-issue. Who is arguing against this? And to drive the point home, the party of small government who wants to “protect children from groomers” is who is fighting against this. That means they are fighting for more unwanted pregnancies, more sexual violence, more STIs, and more people with low self-esteem and knowledge about their own bodies. And not to be overly political here, just highlighting that by going against the research, they are for all these terrible outcomes. There is no justification for it. If they want to bring up religion, that isn’t a way to govern, because not everyone is the same religion. Most of their religions will have rules that they don’t follow, such as women keeping their heads covered, or stoning people who get divorced. And most religions also have terrible science, like women being formed from a rib, or the earth being flat. So, not a good system to make laws, and not something that people clutching their pearls about can really say they even follow, either. Should be a moot point. So, why isn’t it? Where is the anti-science brigade coming from?

Well, that’s a complicated answer. One, for some religious zealots, they have to be anti-science, because if you use scientifically validated sources as a basis for decision making, then it points out that their ancient book of magical blood sacrifices and flying supermen is just mythology, which oddly enough is what they think of every other version of ancient books about other blood magic and flying supermen. Basically, it makes them face their own cognitive dissonance. And for the people who conveniently claim religious beliefs but absolutely aren’t zealots, they are doing it because it is easier to manipulate and abuse people who don’t have good critical thinking skills. For example, 14 religious leaders (pastors, priests, etc) were arrested or sentenced in the past week (for real, 14 in the past week!!! 2 per day!!!!!!). Are we fighting this well-documented scourge of men who wear dresses and abuse children? Nope, we’re totally ignoring that, and unironically attacking a different group of men who wear dresses but don’t abuse children. It’s wild. And with much of our current made-up culture wars, it’s hard to take seriously, except that it’s hurting people. Women in Texas are being forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to the point of getting sepsis, just to get treated by a doctor so the doctor doesn’t get sued. Trans kids who are getting denied care, or worse being outed against their will, will have significantly worse mental health, and will be more likely to think about and attempt suicide. One political party is pro-suicide. That’s the reality we’re living in. That’s where a lack of science, a lack of good research, and a lack of education gets us. 

So, support comprehensive sex ed. Call out bigotry dressed up as politics or religion. Speak up for people who are disadvantaged, and let’s make decisions about how to protect children based on science, research, and what the evidence tells us.