To: Susana Martinez, Governor of New Mexico, Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, and Mike Beebe, Governor of Arkansas
Mandatory Sexual Education is Vital For Teens in Our World of 7 Billion
The need for formal and modern sexual education is essential because of our exponentially growing population. The correlation between sexual education and teen pregnancy is striking; according to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, when teenagers do not formally receive sexual education they are 50% more likely to become pregnant. By educating teenagers in secondary schools about contraceptives, we can reduce unintentional pregnancies and improve the odds of teenagers having healthy, responsible, and mutually protective relationships with their partner(s).
Why is this important?
Did you know that the United States has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world with 52.1 births per 1000 women ages 15-19 according to the report sent out by UNICEF, “A League Table of Teenage Births in Rich Nations.”. This is a staggering rate compared with the rate in Canada, 20.2 births per 1000, and in France, 9.3 births per 1000.
The inevitable truth is that teenagers are going to have sex, so why not do everything we can to ensure they are having safe sex? The report by UNICEF in 2001 demonstrates how the relationship between teenage birth rates and overall birth rates varies considerably from country to country, suggesting that national differences in teenage birth rates are in large part caused by factors that affect teenagers on an individual level.
Many factors affect teen pregnancy rates. Some examples include the geographic location of teens and their financial background, but the factor most predictive of teen pregnancy is the level of received sexual education. Despite this known fact, only 22 states in the US mandate that secondary schools must offer sexual education, and only 19 of these states require that this education be medically factual and technically accurate according to Steve Siebold of the Huffington Post.
The states with the highest teen pregnancy rates lack robust sexual education in secondary schools according to a study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute. New Mexico, which does not require medically accurate sexual education in their schools, has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the US at 93 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19. Arizona, Texas, and Arkansas also do not require sexual education to be taught and have some of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country other than New Mexico. In comparison, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Minnesota have between 33-42 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19. All three of these states require medically accurate and mandated sexual education to be taught in secondary schools.
While the federal government has mandated “abstinence-only-until-marriage education,” under Section 510(b), individual states have varying policies that dictate whether or not sexual education is taught in schools. As teenagers living in a modern world, we want to encourage the states that do not require any form of sexual education in their schools to consider changing their laws. The world’s future population will be substantially larger if this problem is not addressed. Please join us in asking these state legislatures to mandate comprehensive and medically accurate sexual education classes as a required component of secondary school curriculum.