Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Even though sex and sexuality are endlessly praised by media and society, adolescents are given little to no guidance on how to properly venture into adult sexuality successfully while avoiding the effects of STDs/STIs and unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. Policy Solution: A solution to the policy problem would be for the legislature to pass a bill that requires more intensive sex education in secondary and high schools in the United States. This would include mentoring, inclusive sex education of both males and females, an expanded outlook of contraceptives, and community involvement juxtaposed to the same, separate lecture on abstinence.
The Congressional branch of government should act on policy reform of reproductive health with the curriculum being appropriately adjusted by state. I think so because although unplanned teen pregnancy is a nationwide problem, the statistics vary immensely, due to geographic location and I believe it should be taught accordingly.
Two arguments for a change in sex education in secondary and high school are that adolescents and young adults would like to be educated more on reproductive health and prevention of STDs/STIs along with the prevention of unplanned pregnancies. In a survey conducted by SIECUS, (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) many adolescents, particularly those in middle and high school, reported wanted to know about STDs, birth control, healthy relationships, consent, and sexual orientation, along with puberty and abstinence (Eisenstein 2018). Another argument for a change in sex education is students agree that separating by gender reinforces sexism and does not support inclusiveness. In a survey conducted by Louisa Allen, a professor of sociology and education at the University of Auckland, 65 percent of high school students reported that they prefer mixed-gender instruction adding that aids both males and females to be aware of what sex education means for the opposite sex.
As counterarguments, some may argue that same-sex education, especially of reproductive health, has an essential purpose to avoid discomfort in both boys and girls and the lesson plan could be easily adjusted to meet the individual educational requirements and learning techniques of boys and girls in gender-segregated classes (Advocates For Youth 2017). My argument is that discomfort is temporary and with time, that will go away; I also think that segregating the lecture by gender is hindering children because it reinforces gender stereotypes at a young age. Another argument against expanding the topic of sex education could be that it is hard to change district curriculum at a state level, so a reform this big would require grant money to enforce it; this will be difficult because there are already so many cuts in public education funding.
A supportive interest group for my topic is the National Coalition for Sexual Health (https://nationalcoalitionforsexualhealth.org/) or NCSH. Their mission is to provide a discussion for interacting amongst national organizations that further promote comprehensive sex education. The NCSH supports my policy reform. They push members to directly advocate for strong sex education policies. They want to ensure that, “[The United States] is a place where resilient, smart, well-educated young people have a fair shot at growing up to be independent and healthy,” according to their website. Some actions taken by this group include, the National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH), consisting of 100+ leading health/medical organizations and experts, launched the “Five Action Steps to Good Sexual Health”. This comprehensive roadmap redefines what it means to be sexually healthy, and provides practical tools to help Americans improve their sexual health in May 2018 (Strauss, 2018). Also, on October 17, 2019, Simple Health and Power to Decide, an NCSH member, partnered up to increase access to birth control. This campaign will donate one month of birth control to an uninsured person for every Instagram story or Twitter post using the hashtag #KissMyAccess; this lasted until October 31, 2019 ( Lage 2019).
To put my policy solution to action, I can do three things: petition, charity, and contact my elected officials. I feel like the petition would impact the government because they demonstrate a sample of people that promote my policy reform and overall prompting political leaders to take action on a subject. Furthermore, starting a charity for my policy solution would help my policy because it would raise the money I need to start the reform; it doesn’t seem like the government will give a big enough grant to actually put my reform in effect. Finally, I can contact some elected officials with my issues concerning my policy and work with them to develop a proposed bill (ie. my policy solution).
Two obstacles in enacting my policy solution are founding and gaining the popular vote for reform. It is hard to change district curriculum at a state level, so a reform this big would require grant money to enforce it; this will be difficult because there are already so many cuts in public education funding but it is doable through donations and time. Another obstacle is gaining the popular vote for the reform because adolescents cannot vote so their parents are their voice. In a sense, if the parents don’t agree with more comprehensive sexual education then the children won’t get the opportunity to experience it. A possible solution to this is to ask parents if they consent for their children to experience through a trial granted by the city council. This way, students can experience a more comprehensive sexual education lesson and parents who don’t want their children to participate aren’t obligated to agree to it; this relates to the right to privacy which allows individuals to have personal privacy in which they the government cannot invade lawfully. An important case in the history of the right to privacy is Griswold v. Connecticut, which challenged the state law that banned the use of contraceptives like birth control and condoms.
My topic of reproductive health is currently a big political issue in the United States in modern society. Although many Americans do not see eye to eye on this topic, it is, however, I learned it is protected by the right to privacy which allows individuals to have personal privacy in which the government cannot invade lawfully. An important case in the history of the right to privacy is Griswold v. Connecticut, which challenged the state law that banned the use of contraceptives like birth control and condoms. Another course concept that relates to my policy is citizen groups. Citizen groups, as defined by the book, consist of group members that are joined together by “a purpose incentive, the satisfaction of contributing to what they regard as a worthy purpose” (Patterson). This relates to my topic because the only way and reason policy reform is possible is if enough individuals want it, and in this case, they do. Citizen groups can result in non-profits like Planned Parenthood, an organization whose goal is to provide resources and education about reproductive health to those who seek it. Federalism was a topic I never really understood until it was discussed in class. Federalism is divided sovereignty between the national government and the states; each level is constitutionally protected meaning national and state powers cannot abolish each other. This relates to my topic because public education is, for the most part, a power left to the states that the government has to respect. So if my policy solution is changed at the state or national level, it will have to be respected by both. Finally, a really important corse concept for my topic is interest groups. Interest groups are organizations that seek to influence public policy. While researching for the Town Hall Meeting, I came across many interest groups that supported and opposed my policy solution and it was interesting seeing different ideologies that each side advocated for. I feel like researching interest groups helped me understand my policy solution and how it may help or hinder individuals.