By Stephanie Brenneisen Photo Editor, Online Editor
No matter the standards, religious or not, high school students should be given the right to health education, which is something that public high schools in Utah continue to teach at a sub-par level.
State Law requires sex-ed in public high schools, but it comes with some ridiculous restrictions. Whether or not someone chooses to engage in sexual activity, teenagers deserve the right to the knowledge that is kept from them so they can make informed and safe decisions.
Abstinence is obviously something that is highly encouraged and respected in the state of Utah, but not everyone can be expected to follow that, which is why the state’s policy on sex-ed does more harm than good.
A few things that cannot be taught in Utah public high schools are the advocacy for homosexuality, sexual activity outside of marriage, and the encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices.
The fact that defending homosexuality is banned in the health curriculum in Utah may be why people of the LGBTQ community are so widely disrespected and rejected in this state. It makes it harder for homosexuals to come out and be who they are. Stereotypes are left to fester and homophobia continues.
Teenagers with comprehensive sex education are 50% less likely to become pregnant while abstinence-only programs show no progress according to the Advocates for Youth, but the ban on teaching contraception remains. This ban also leads to STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), which infect 1 in 4 teenage girls.
Each year, there are 20 million new cases of STDs with 50% of these cases from people between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Safety should be the number one concern, not the pressure on teenagers to remain abstinent. That pressure can lead to rebellion and not everyone can be expected to have the same standards anyway.
The ban on teaching about things like condoms, birth control pills, and the patch can also cause infections. Health class is supposed to teach kids how to be healthy, but depriving kids of the knowledge that can keep them from contracting an infection is just sickly.
STDs can often lead to infertility and even death. Even if someone doesn’t plan on engaging in sexual activity, they should be taught about it for the sake of their own safety, just in case.
Teenage pregnancy is also a concern because of the lack of education. Utah ranks at 13th in the nation for the rate of teenage births with 20.6 births out of every 1,000 teenager, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
When a person reaches the age of fifteen, they should be given the right to this type of education if they give consent to learning about it. If they do not feel comfortable learning about it, then it should not be forced upon them, but they do deserve that right to learn so they can make informed decisions for their own safety and well-being.