Columbia Public Schools reached the effective date of the sex ed bill passed by the Missouri Senate March 2011 regarding the role of sex education in schools.
The bill’s timeline set Aug. 28 as the date to for it take effect. The bill provides that any course material should be medically and factually accurate, and informative about sex.
Courses must educate teenagers on the biological, physical and chemical changes their bodies undergo, as well as potential risks of sex. The bill also encourages abstinence as a contraception method.
The bill intends to further protect teenagers from potentially making poor decisions by increasing awareness and educating them in regard to all aspects of sexual maturity and readiness.
Regarding potential modifications to the curriculum currently taught at RBHS, health teacher Candice Jorgenson said the changes made in the bill mirrored what is taught in CPS health classes.
“Looking at [a summary of the bill], this is really similar to what we teach. We try to educate and inform students about unprotected sex and the possible consequences,” Jorgenson said. “It’s good that we are improving the quality of our sex ed, and I’m happy that what we teach at RBHS meets this new standard.”
Jorgenson reiterated the importance of knowledge as power, stressing that teenagers not educated in aspects of sex make many rash decisions.
“My role [as health teacher] is just to inform the students,” Jorgenson said. “There is a lot of misinformation that the students get. I try to present the facts in a factual manner, definitely stressing that abstinence is the 100 percent effective method for preventing S.T.D.’s as well as pregnancies.”
The bill aims to present the facts and information to teenagers in a way that allows them to make educated, rational decisions regarding sex. Senior Iyas Daghlas disagreed with this perspective.
“The way they teach the curriculum, from my experience, is an implicit recognition of the fact teenagers have sex,” Daghlas said. “Because of that, the curriculum is geared toward preparing students for having sex in a safe manner. I think it should be geared towards showing students the consequences of sex that they wouldn’t be able to foresee on their own.”
Previously, the main target of sex education laws was to lower unintentional teen pregnancies. The new bill focuses on the dangers of S.T.D.’s.
Daghlas said that showing teenagers uncensored examples of S.T.D.’s could be key in dissuading premature sexuality.
The police also attempts to combat teen pregnancy for the emotional, hormonal and educational stress it creates. The bill specifically discourages teen pregnancy because of the time and effort required to raise a child. Teenagers almost always are not financially able to personally support a child, and are in no position to raise children, having yet to reach maturity themselves.
“Pregnancy is a difficult time for most women with all of the physical and hormonal changes going on anyway, but when you are a teenager facing an unplanned pregnancy these can be overwhelming,” Jorgenson said. “The social and emotional issues are more serious for teenagers than for adults, not to mention the financial stress.”
Regardless, Jorgenson is optimistic about the success of the health program, and satisfied about the curriculum the district dictates.
“I would hope so; I’d like to think,” the sex ed program is helping teenagers make decisions Jorgenson said.
By Nadav Gov-Ari