Republicans in the States Push for Improvements to Sex Education

While anti-choice lawmakers are voting day after day for bills to defund Planned Parenthood, to restrict when women can receive abortions, and to simply hinder women’s reproductive rights, progress is being made at the state level. Unconcerned with the political fear-mongering and sensationalism on Capitol Hill, state legislators are reaching across the aisle and doing bipartisan work to better the education of their constituents. When misinformation is at an all-time high, there is no better time to improve sex education in the U.S.

In North Carolina House we find strong Republican support for a bill that would expand the qualifications for sex education curriculum. You might expect that this is a push to include misinformation often touted by anti-choice legislators but this is not the case! Materials used in the curriculum must now be peer reviewed, scientific, and accepted by credentialed “sexual health education” experts. There was another version of the bill that would have allowed only “credentialed experts”, but the addition of the “sexual health education” aspect helps ensure that the middle school youths this bill targets receive proper, evidence-based education. The topics under which these materials fall include STIs, contraception, sexual abuse, and a newly added sex trafficking prevention. Concern remains regarding the presence of materials with religious backgrounds instead of scientific and will be explored further in the coming weeks.

Legislators in Michigan are tackling a different issue in sex education: consent. The state has been working hard to stop sexual assaults, an issue that has risen to prominence as they’ve become more widely reported on college campuses across the country. Sex education often focuses on the facts around sex, whether it’s about STIs or about various methods of contraception, but it does not always venture into the topic of the initial engagement of activity. The new legislation introduced in Michigan aims to require Michigan schools to include consent in their sex education. Dubbed the “yes means yes” bill, it will make a direct line of “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement” for consent to be taught to students.

Sex education is a topic in the unique position to influence all other reproductive health issues. Better sex education prevents unintended and teen pregnancies. This in turn prevents abortions. It prevents the contraction of STIs and it informs of the numerous methods of contraception. It teaches people when it is appropriate to engage in sexual activity and when it is not. Sex education is in many ways the most important topic in reproductive health legislation. And the progress made in these two states should be lauded and imitated by the rest of the country.

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