An article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review describes two bills, currently in the state legislature, that could have a significant positive impact on sex education in public schools. The Notice Home Act, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Eddie Day Pashiski, would require school districts to inform parents if their sex education program is abstinence only, just as districts must currently inform parents if they teach about contraception. The Healthy Youth Act, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Chelsa Wagner, goes even further, as it “would require public schools to teach students how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.”
Parents and politicians across the state are debating the merits of abstinence-only versus comprehensive sex education. In expressing his support of comprehensive programs, Pashinski said it best:
For a person to be celibate until marriage is highly unlikely. The moment will come when they’re going to engage in some form of sex. When that moment comes, they will know the dangers involved and how to protect themselves [if they have had comprehensive sex education].
Teenagers should be given the tools they need to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, and that means learning not just abstinence – although the law will in any case mandate that schools make sure students understand that abstinence is the only surefire way to protect themselves – but how to use a condom, and what other methods of contraception exist.
The Notice Home Act would be a good start, ensuring that parents know exactly what their children are being taught about sex so they can fill in the gaps as they see fit. But the Healthy Youth Act is ultimately the best way to keep our young men and women safe, whatever choices they make.