Sex Education In Schools

Sexual education is one of the most important ways to prevent teenage pregnancies as well as the spread of STIs (sexually transmitted infections). While parents still play a role in sexual education, all students receive at least some sort of sexual education in school. While some parts of the education overlap, each state in the United States has their own unique set of policies concerning sex education and this greatly influences what information is taught and in what ways the information is conveyed. Here are some of the commonalities in sex education that can be found across many states of the U.S. as well as in other countries.

Avoiding Abstinence Only Education

In many areas of the country there are battles over the form of sex education. Some conservative or religious people prefer abstinence only education as they feel that comprehensive sex education (which includes the facts) only encourages sex. However, several different studies have shown that abstinence only education programs increase the risk of teenagers developing STIs and becoming pregnant due to a lack of knowledge. Because of this, comprehensive sex education is growing across the country. In fact, 19 of the states require that any sexual education be medically accurate and based on research, making comprehensive sex education essential.

Contraception Methods

One of the crucial factors that are taught in all comprehensive sexual education courses is contraception. This includes all the major methods including (male) condoms, female condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, diaphragms and others. In all cases, students should be made aware of how to properly use the methods as well as what they are and their effectiveness. Sex education aims to teach teenagers what will happen during intercourse and how to prevent potential complications such as STDs and pregnancy by using the contraception correctly and safely. See also our article on answering basic sex questions.


Another area that is usually covered during sex education is the various STDs. In fact, 33 states require that the students in public schools learn about HIV/AIDS although there are not requirements for other STDs such as chlamydia and syphilis. Usually this topic will focus on what the STDs are and how they can affect a person’s life as well as prevention methods. This is designed to help teenagers avoid these complications while having safe sex and so that they can recognize the symptoms of a disease if they were to catch one of the STDs. It is important to have safe sex. This portion also frequently (but not always) emphasizes the fact that when a person has unprotected sex, they are having sex with all of their partner’s previous sexual partners in order to show the importance of using contraception to prevent disease.

Teaching Methods

In most cases, sex education is designed by the state, school district or specific school and then the teacher is told to follow the given lesson plan, with allowances for slight variations. Videos also generally play an important role in teaching this topic as they allow for easier methods to explain certain difficult or uncomfortable topics. As technology grows, educational videos are growing in number so there are more quality options available.

One thing to keep in mind is if a lesson plan is created and a teacher is told to follow it, there is no guarantee it will be followed exactly. If a teacher, for example, is in favor of abstinence only education they may gloss over certain points in the lesson plan. When using videos for sexual education, however, this is not a concern. The videos are standardized and only contain accurate information and this means that there is no worry about students being misled. Most quality educational videos will answer all of the common questions related to sex education and if the students still have a question, the teacher is on hand to answer it.