Sex Education Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1607 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

Gay/Lesbian Studies: Sexual Education

THE NEED for COMPREHENSIVE SEXUAL EDUCATION

Sex Education became a traditional part of the middle school and high school curriculum in the middle of the 20th century. In the last 50 years, social attitudes and American cultural beliefs about human sexuality have changed significantly (Angier 2007), but, for the most part, sexual education has not evolved simultaneously, except perhaps in the modernization of the actual materials and literature used to present the substantive information. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that the current format of sexual education programs require substantial overhaul, particularly in several specific areas: (1) Sex Ed must commence earlier (i.e. In middle school) rather than later (i.e. high school); (2) it should include social aspects of human sexual relations and various ethical values beneficial to the individual and the community; (3) likewise, it should include moral components of sexual choices and attitudes; and (4) it should address the issues of alternate sexual and gender orientation and tolerance. What is required is a more comprehensive approach that reflects the realities of all the fundamental issues that arise in connection with human sexuality and behavioral choices associated with it.

The Insufficiencies of Traditional Sexual Education:

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Traditional Sex Ed is often presented in high school, by which time many students already have had sexual experiences of various types. More important than the fact that they are already sexually active by the time they receive any formal instruction, even most of those who have not yet actually experimented sexually have nevertheless already reached the point in their development where sex and sexuality are highly charged subjects (Levant 1997). Equally important is the fact that by the time most students are in high school, they have often already formed specific beliefs about the moral issues associated with certain sexual choices. Generally, those beliefs reflect some of the most common attitudes and values of their families and community (Gerrig & Zimbardo 2005).

Term Paper on Sex Education Assignment

By initiating Sex Ed in middle school, educators have the opportunity to address common cultural attitudes and beliefs about sexuality in principle, thereby providing alternatives to various elements of typical approaches to sexual gratification including objective ethical values, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, safer sex practices, and unplanned pregnancy. Comprehensive Sex Ed would likely require no additional funds or resources except to the extent it requires changing the way educators are trained and replacing old literature with updated teaching texts. The non-printed materials already used in connection with traditional Sex Ed programs is still sufficient for that portion of a comprehensive educational program appropriately devoted to human anatomy and biological reproduction.

Outlining Comprehensive Sexual Education:

Currently, Sex Ed lessons address little more than human physiology and anatomy, the biology of reproduction, and thinly veiled warning about expressing sexuality too soon under the guise of information about sexually transmitted disease, the mechanics of birth control, and pregnancy. Generally, specific questions from students about making good sexual choices and the appropriate time to begin experimenting sexually are addresses (if at all) only extremely generally and with a cautionary tone that is not particularly conducive to inspiring trust for the instructor to dispense objective real- world advice applicable to the realities of teen sexual experimentation.

A comprehensive approach would de-emphasize the focus on physiology and anatomy and significantly change the aspects of birth control and pregnancy-related information presented. Instead of limiting the scope of those discussions to biology, a comprehensive Sex Ed program would add subject matter about the moral, social, and economic reasons to delay childrearing and to avoid unintended pregnancies at all costs.

Conversely, the program should acknowledge the reality that many students (even in middle school) have already begun experimenting sexually. Rather than communicating the messages that sexual intimacy should be delayed until a particular age (or until marriage), a comprehensive program would provide instruction that related relative readiness for sexual intimacy to matters of physical desire, mutuality of expectation, and the emotional responses often triggered by various types of sexual choices and patterns of expression. In principle, the overall goal of a comprehensive Sex Ed program should be to empower students to make sexual choices conducive to their short-term emotional and psychological interests and to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted disease and unplanned pregnancy throughout the teen years. In that regard, a fundamental component of the comprehensive Sex Ed program are the patterns of learned expectations based on gender, sexuality, and alternative sexual orientations that are consistent with the evolution of contemporary understanding of sexual desire and behavior, and the basis of morality in human sexual expression.

Teaching Sexual Ethics:

As much as any other issue arising in connection with human sexuality, the comprehensive Sex Ed approach would address cultural attitudes that account for differential behavioral expectations by virtue of gender, which contributes very directly and substantially to the high incidence of psychologically damaging responses to sexual experimentation (Branden 1999). More particularly, those differential expectations and assumptions also account for the degree to which sexual expression is, in general as well as during the high school years, much more likely detrimental to the female than to the male (Kasl 1989).

In many respects, males begin developing a predatory attitude (Levant 1997) toward pursuing sexual opportunities in American society before they are even fully sexually active. This is directly attributable to the fundamentally different values usually taught (informally) to young girls and boys throughout their socialization. By the middle school years, even students who are not yet sexually active are familiar with the terms (and more importantly, with concepts) such as "slut," "tramp," "whore," and "stud" or "ladies' man" (Baker & Elliston 1998). The comprehensive Sex Ed program would address and challenge some of the beliefs and attitudes arising from differential sexual socialization that are detrimental to the personal psychological and emotional health of the individual and to society at large.

In design, the comprehensive Sex Ed presentation would take on more of the complexion of a philosophy class discussion than the familiar format that is virtually indistinguishable from biology class except in the reduction in student attention and composure in the classroom attributable to the looser nature of Sex Ed classes and the fact that, by the time it is presented, sex and sexual expression has already become a highly charge topic for teenagers that prompts laughter to mask embarrassment.

Specific discussions should include the basis for moral judgment in human behavior and the underlying fallacy (Branden 1999) inherent in the gender-based sexual double standard. Currently, that unjustifiable moral double standard is commonly used to justify outright deception on the part of males and their honest intentions with respect to different degrees of interest in different potential sexual partners at great emotional and psychological cost to women (Kasl 1989).

In this respect, the comprehensive Sex Ed approach presents a ripe, but as-yet- unused opportunity to introduce students to the logic of objective moral ethics, such as by suggesting the appropriateness of imagining the type of treatment their loved ones deserve from prospective sexual partners. Those discussions should challenge young male students to distinguish their protective urges with regard to their female siblings and their predatory attitude toward prospective female sexual partners.

Similarly, attitudes about non-traditional sexual and gender orientation are usually already substantially formed before the high school years. A comprehensive Sex Ed program initiated during middle school is, therefore, much better suited to provide socially beneficial messages about alternate life styles designed to increase social tolerance of others. More importantly, it would do so at precisely the age that many students begin to develop specific questions, concerns, or confusion about their own sexual feelings and desires (Henslin 2002).

Conclusion:

Like other aspects of modern education, many Sex Ed programs are completely out of synch with changes in contemporary cultural values and the evolution of our understanding of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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