I will never claim to be good at math; quantum physics is beyond me, and even logic puzzles get me on my bad days, but I can, at the very least, grasp the concept of cause and effect. Flick the light switch, on comes the light. Provide children with informative and realistic sex education, and the amount of pregnancies, abortions, and sexually transmitted illnesses decrease. Simple? It should be; and yet, Catholic school systems teach adolescents that contraception is unholy, that pre-marital sex is a sin, and that the human body is filthy and impure (not that body image is an issue amongst teenagers, right?). Despite these claims, despite endless parades of parents demonizing sex education, despite the fear mongering, the statistics are impossible to deny (though, they will try).
Recently, Colorado offered its teenage population free contraceptives and, unsurprisingly, teen pregnancies fell by 40 per cent, and abortions by 42 per cent. Cause and effect: offer teenagers safe, responsible means to have sex, and unwanted pregnancies will decline. Take a moment to read those statistics over. Take some time to really consider what those numbers mean. Then, consider what I am about to tell you, as this may be a hard truth for people to accept: teenagers are going to have sex even if you do not want them to. Why? How dare they! How dare young, hormonally-driven, curious, social creatures act on natural impulses? How dare human adolescents act, interact, and function like human adolescents?
There is nothing shameful about sex. There is nothing inherently immoral about being sexually active. The “slut” is a myth; the “whore,” the “tramp,” are all constructions. Fear-fuelled sex education is no education at all, and let me explain why: it is already glaringly obvious that all it really takes to prevent unwanted pregnancies and diseases is readily available contraception and education. Despite the best efforts of the anti-condom, anti-birth control, pro-abstinence movement, children in their school systems still manage to find themselves pregnant at sixteen, still manage to contract chlamydia and herpes, but with the added benefit of being completely ignorant to their own sexual health, and repulsed by their own biology.
Women, some as young as eleven years old, suffer the brunt of this militant ignorance. Time and time again, I have spoken with students of the Catholic School System (the very same system that tends to ignore the importance of condoms in place of “abstinence, abstinence, abstinence!”) who were raised, through what is meant to be a “safe space,” to hate their bodies, to detest their own sexualities. Moreover, they rationalized the penalization of sexually active women, labelling them sluts, as if an acceptance of human nature was somehow equal to a crime. For those of you, by chance, reading this article, who think these things, who went through a system that refuses real sexual education (not to say all Catholic systems are the same, of course), know this: you are not dirty. Your body is not filthy. Having sex because you want to does not make you a slut. Using condoms and birth control is sensible, not sinful.
From these twisted ideologies are born acts of hate; impossible, you might think. Families turn against pregnant teenagers, acts of violence against “sluts,” and it goes on. It always goes on. As long as we allow for ignorant education to exist in our school systems, it will carry on. Young people will hate their bodies, make irresponsible decisions, get pregnant, and lose hope in themselves, because it is what they are taught, it is what they know. Education should never allow for ignorance. Those of you still reading: your body is beautiful, your sex drive is natural, and trust me, you need to use a condom.