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An Abstinence-Only Lesson Is Not Sex Education

It also violates a public right.

A court ruling on sex education was deemed “historic” a few days ago in California. Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black ruled that health classes focusing exclusively on telling students to remain abstinent until marriage fall short of the state's comprehensive sex ed requirements.

He said that given the high rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies, “access to medically and socially appropriate sexual education is an important public right.” This includes updated textbooks and modules that address preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

In some parts of the globe like here in the Philippines, for more than 20 years, only abstinence was being taught in sex education classes—if you can call them that. In an article on published in 2013, Pro-Life Philippines Board Member Rolando Delos Reyes said that those lobbying for sex education “are just complicating things that are supposed to be simple. [It is just as basic as] there must be no sex before marriage.” True enough, I was one of many, many students taught that premarital sex was bad, and that I should only have sex with my husband (or else I’d be impure/dirty/worthless).  

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The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act (or RH Law) upheld in 2014 changes the game—at least it seeks to. It mandates sex education for all, apart from universal access to contraceptives and maternal care. Over nine million public school students were set to receive proper sex education. Which means to say more schools in the country should now conduct sex education classes.

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We can only hope that the court ruling in California has some kind of chain reaction if only for everybody to reasses school materials and modules, and consider that young people need to know how to care for their bodies. As Judge Black put it, “It’s their right.” Sex education, because it seeks to educate, should guide students to make informed choices.

Sources: Vice, Think Progress

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