Whatever Makes You Happy: Why Everyone Deserves A Well Rounded Sexual Education (by Guest Blogger Sally Leonard)


PhotoI am a long time sexual health advocate, ever since I was a teenager I have been educating people about  how to take responsibility for their own sexuality. This project gave me a chance to further explore what I can do out in the world. The main question that I have been exploring is how can we could better educate our youth about their own sexual health? From my own personal experience talking to people over the years, the general public been woefully undereducated about their own sexual health. I remember sitting in my high school sex education class thinking “They are telling us that disease is everywhere and that the only way that we can remain safe was if we don’t have sex. I don’t think that they are being realistic”. This caused me to go off to do my own research and realize that most of the information they were teaching me back in that classroom was inaccurate and fear based.

I was apart of the generation of teenagers that was subjected to the abstinence-only sex education curriculum, this is a program that promotes waiting until marriage to have sex. Unfortunately this curriculum has the opposite effect on our youth, since this program has been forced into schools over the last decade the United States has had the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease in the industrialized world. Abstinent-Only education has been proven again and again that it fails to educate people about the risks involved in being an active sexual adult. Our youth deserve to know all the risks along with the joys that come with being sexually active. Leaving people ignorant about their health increases chances of infection rather then preventing it. That is why when I found out that H.R. 3324 aka The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act was going up for vote, I decided that I would write my state representative. This bill is promoting a scientific based approach to educating our youth about sex along with going over such issues as sexual orientation, self esteem, and healthy self image that will help them receive a well rounded education about sex. I believe that we all deserve a chance to be fully informed and make decisions about our sexual health, no matter what we decide to do afterwards.

The Letter

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici

District: FH-OR01

12725 SW Millikan Way, Suite 220
Beaverton, Oregon 97005

Dear Mrs. Bonamici:

I am writing you today about House Resolution 3324 also known as “The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act”. As your constituent and a sexual health advocate I am urging you to support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, which would give grants to programs that offer a comprehensive approach to sex education.

The United States has one of the highest rates for teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the world. For the last decade abstinence-only sexual education has been presented as sufficient for our youth, this has been a great disservice for them. Multiple studies have been done by such organizations as SIECUS, Guttmacher Institute, and many Universities across the US agree that these abstinence-only programs are more detrimental to our youth and have caused more harm then good.

This bill is important because it requires programs to emphasize emotional skills and the development of “healthy attitudes and values” about issues like body image, gender identity and sexual orientation, topics that are often lost in abstinence only education programs.

Again, I urge you to support this bill, and I ask that you work with your colleagues to pass this quickly.



Jennifer S. Leonard

The Research

Managing Controversy Managing controversy | Teachers | SexualityandU .” SexualityandU.ca N.p., n.d. Web. 4 June 2013. <http://www.sexualityandu.ca/teachers/managing-controversy&gt;.  This article is an guide for teachers on how to handle controversy when teaching sex ed to children. It gives a detailed description of different methods of sex ed and their curriculums. It also gives ideas on how to deal with parents who are opposed to the various kinds of sex ed curriculums.

This fits in with my overall research question because it is a comprehensive description of all the kinds of sex ed curriculums that are out there along with methods of how to deal with issues that come up in teaching each method. A lot of times teachers have a hard time dealing with how to converse with parents who are opposed to their children receiving education about sex, this article uses conflict management techniques to diffuse arguments that come up with this subject. The site is from a canadian teachers resource guide.


Senate passes sex education bill | EdNewsColorado.” EdNewsColorado | Colorado’s comprehensive site for education news and analysis. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 June 2013. <http://www.ednewscolorado.org/news/capitol-news/sex-ed-bill-jumps-another-hurdle&gt;. This article shows shows in a concise manner what the argument about sex education in america is.

While it is short, this argument that happened over a bill that went through the colorado senate is the base argument around sex education. Most of the argument that is happening is based off of moral grounds surrounding the subjects of abstinence, big government stepping into “personal” family issues, and teaching information/tolerance towards homosexuality. This is the first article I have found that summarizes the argument so quickly.


Walcott, christy m., Chenneville, Tiffany, Tarquini, Sarah, “Relationship between recall of sex education and college students sexual attitudes and behavior”, Psychology in the Schools, Sep 2011 vol. 48 issue 8, p. 828-842.  This article goes into the study of the difference between students who receive a comprehensive sex education and students that receive an abstinence only education.

I am using this as one of my academic resources because it shows on a massive scale the difference in attitudes of people who receive different kinds of sex education and how it effects them as they age. It also shows the influence of where some of the controversy in the national debate comes from and what effect that it has on the political table. This is a good example of what the trend will be like if we continue to only do certain types of sex ed curriculums.


Stranger-hall, Kathrin F., Hall, David W.,  “Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the U.S.”, PloS ONE,  2011 Vol 6 issue 10, p. 1-11.  This article showcases the other issue about abstinence only education in america. As one of the industrialized nations in the world, we have the highest rates of teen pregnancy on earth. Because of this sex ed curriculum, there have been consequences for our youth that could have easily be avoided.

I am using this as one of my academic sources because it goes over many studies that show how ineffective our current sex ed policy is. The united states has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the world, and a lot of this article shows that there needs to be reform since it is shown in  multiple other countries that comprehensive sex education decreases teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease numbers.



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