by Grace Blais, RFFNH intern

In many schools across The United States, abstinence-based or abstinence-stressed sexual education is the only form of sexual education that is taught to students. This style of sexual education enforces the idea that students should wait until marriage to have sex. Despite the numerous studies that show that this form of sex-ed is harmful and does not provide adequate tools for students to partake in safe sex, it is still being taught in many classrooms throughout the United States (Stanger-Hall and Hall 2011). Many scholars agree that comprehensive sexual education, which educates students on sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention, birth control, consent, and healthy relationships, is best for preventing teen pregnancy, STIs, and more (Banaei 2023; Dahlia et al. 2021). Another key component to comprehensive education is making the curriculum inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community. Sexual education is usually taught in an extremely heteronormative way that does not benefit an already disenfranchised community. While our main goal at The Reproductive Freedom Fund of NH is to provide financial assistance to those seeking abortions, we also strive to advocate for issues we believe in, such as the importance of comprehensive and inclusive sexual education for all. This blog post seeks to inform why this is so important, and how ReproFund is here to help. 

In the United States, only 38 states and the District of Columbia mandate sexual education and/or HIV education. Of these states, only 18 require that the content being taught is medically accurate and 29 require that abstinence be stressed as the best option (Guttmacher Institute 2023). This prioritization of abstinence based sex-ed has proven to be detrimental to teens throughout The United States. The United States has a substantially higher teen pregnancy rate when compared to other developed countries. According to scholars, the difference is not because of early onset sexual activities, but rather the lack of education pertaining to birth control besides abstinence (Hall 2011, 9). On top of this, when sexual education is taught, in some states it is not even required to be medically accurate. In said states, students have been taught false and increased failure rates of condoms and different forms of birth control, and even inaccurate information pertaining to the transmission of STIs (Rabbitte 2020, 537). These scare tactics are extremely dangerous to teens’ health and only increase the dangers of unsafe sex. A teen’s sexual education should not be filled with shame and inaccurate information, it should provide the necessary education on how to make informed and safe decisions when they choose to have sex. Numerous studies have cited that the teaching of medically accurate, comprehensive sexual education that outlines different birth control options, information on STIs, emergency contraception options, and community resources best prevents unintended teen pregnancy and STIs (Hall 2011, 2). 

While certain states have regulations on what type of sexual education is taught, there are also four states that require only negative information to be taught about homosexuality and or a positive emphasis on heterosexuality (Guttmacher Institute 2023). LGBTQ youth are already at a higher risk of bullying in school and sexual violence, and when sexual education classes push a negative agenda against this community, it further ostracizes them (Rabbitte 2020, 532). Furthermore, most sexual education classes are extremely penial-vagainal based and do not teach about other forms of sex. For example, only 7% of LGBTQ youth in the United States “report receiving sexual health education that was inclusive of both gender and sexual minorities” (Rabbitte 2020, 531). This has forced students to turn to pornography to get more information about non-heteronormative sex, which ultimately leads students to have unrealistic or unhealthy views towards sex due to the typically unrealistic depictions in pornography (Rabbitte 2020, 532). Sexual education needs to be inclusive to all to ensure the sexual wellness of all communities. 

The Reproductive Freedom Fund of NH is passionate about helping our community in any way possible, this includes providing resources for safe and healthy sex! Comprehensive sexual education includes providing local resources for reproductive healthcare and where protection can be obtained is a key part to establishing safe sex for teens (Rabbitte 2020, 538). ReproFund does both; throughout New Hampshire we provide free Plan B which is an emergency contraception, and we also work with local clinics to provide affordable abortions to those in need. In addition to this, we also have extensive education content throughout our social media channels and in our online zine library that highlight the LGBTQIA+ community as well. If you have questions about sexual education, we are happy to be a resource to you! 

Works Cited 

Banaei, Mojdeh, Nourossadat Kariman, Vida Ghasemi, Nasibeh Roozbeh, and Maryam Jahangirifar. 2023. “Component of Sexual Health Services for Vaginismus Management: A Qualitative Study.” PLoS One 18 (8): e0283732.

Dahlia, Dahlia, Sutrisno Sutrisno, and Alimatul Qibtiyah. 2021. “Early Childhood Sex Education Media as a Preventive Step for Sexual Violence.” Jurnal Ilmiah Peuradeun 9 (3): 607–22.

Guttmacher Institute. 2023. “Sex and HIV Education.” Guttmacher Institute. 2023.

Rabbitte, Maureen. 2020. “Sex Education in School, Are Gender and Sexual Minority Youth Included?: A Decade in Review.” American Journal of Sexuality Education 15 (4): 530–42.

Stanger-Hall, Kathrin F., and David W. Hall. 2011. “Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the U.S.” PLOS ONE 6 (10): e24658.

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