Comprehensive Sex Education Often Prevents Unwanted Pregnancies


Studies by the federal government and others show that young people’s sexual risk-taking is actually promoted by ignorance, not knowledge. Social liberals and conservatives appear to hold polar opposite views on sex education. Conservatives often present the idea that sex for teens is dangerous.

My guest, Dr. Carol Queen, is Staff Sexologist at Good Vibrations, a nationwide chain of sex toy stores. Since 1990 Dr. Carol has enjoyed a unique platform to focus on sex education and women’s pleasure. Dr. Carol has lived in San Francisco for 35 years, and remembers that her city lost twenty thousand residents due to AIDS in the 1980s and 90s. This led San Francisco to institute a comprehensive sex-education program in grades five, six, and seven. Even so, this program never mentioned sex without intercourse, such as hand jobs and oral sex. The belief was that the idea of teaching pleasure would be too much of a risk.

Parents need sex education, too. When they are more confident, they are better at sexually educating their kids. The Journal of Sex Research published a study demonstrating that the likelihood that adolescents will have intercourse decreases as the number of sexual topics they discuss with their parents increases. This study was repeated by entirely different researchers the following year, with the same results.

When sex education (through the schools and/or parents) is comprehensive, teens examine their sexual decisions far more carefully and wisely. Studies show that many with better information choose to postpone intercourse and to use contraception when they do begin to have intercourse.

Sex education that simply teaches “just say no” to sex is unrealistic and ineffective. A CDC study shows that only 12% of those who take virginity vows keep them – a failure rate of 88%. Research about teen pregnancies in all 50 states showed that abstinence-only sex education is ineffective in preventing teen pregnancy and may actually contribute to it.

Dr. Carol recommends this excellent book by Heather Corinna: S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens & Twenties. She also suggests “A Sexplanation” a movie by Alex Liu. “In his quest for a good sex education, health reporter Alex Liu meets with educators from Planned Parenthood to Porn-Hub to strip away shame from sexuality.” 

Dr. Diana and Dr. Carol also discussed the criminalizing of bodily autonomy because Roe v. Wade may likely be overturned. Anti-abortion laws have wide-ranging public health, economic, and social consequences. It’s been shown that women denied abortions experience more poverty, have more anxiety, and their existing children experience developmental consequences. Anti-abortion laws can also be deadly: research asserts that overturning Roe could lead to a 21% increase in pregnancy-related deaths.

Bodily autonomy is a human right. Abortion is essential health care. Period.

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