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Advocate for Effective Sex Education

As a parent or caregiver, you have a role in ensuring your young person and their peers get the information they need. Sure, it can be a hassle – or scary – to speak up and attend PTA or school board meetings, but it’s important. Here are some resources to boost your confidence and effectiveness.  

Strong, Effective Messages

Here are a few examples for what you could say to school, district or state leaders. 

  • I want my kids to learn what they need to grow up safe, healthy, and confident.  

  • Age-appropriate sex education prepares young people for today’s world and sets them up for success in all their relationships.  

  • Young people should get age-appropriate, medically accurate information and answers to their questions about sex and relationships without being shamed or judged. 

  • Young people have the right to receive the information and skills they need to protect their health. 

  • Sex education reinforces the role of parents or trusted adults in decision-making about sex and relationships, and helps parents communicate with their children on these topics. 

  • Sex education helps protect young people from misinformation they get online and from peers. 

  • Sex education that teaches about relationships, diversity, and self-esteem helps young people grow up to be respectful, confident, and conscientious adults. 

  • Young people deserve the information and skills they need to make healthy decisions about sex and relationships, now and in the future. 

Data to Support You

Does medically-accurate, age-appropriate sex education work? The research says yes.  Here’s a summary of the data. 

Medically accurate sex education gives students the knowledge and resources they need to become confident, healthy, and responsible young adults and helps prepare them to make healthy decisions about their sexual and reproductive health throughout their lifetime. Compared to students who get abstinence only or “traditional” sex ed, students who receive inclusive and shame-free sex ed have better sexual outcomes later in life, including: 

  • 5x more likely to experience a reduction in STI and pregnancy rates (1). (This is researcher-speak for 'less likely to get pregnant or an STI’) 

  • 13% increase in contraception use (2) 

  • Delayed initiation of sex and fewer sexual partners (3) 

Effective, inclusive sex ed can save lives. LGBTQ+ youth are 23% less likely to attempt suicide when schools include education on LGBTQ+ subjects (4). 

Schools and communities benefit too. Schools that implemented comprehensive sex ed reported 25% less psychological abuse, 60% less sexual violence, and 60% less physical violence with a current dating partner (5). 

And research shows it’s a good investment: federal funding for more comprehensive sex education reduced teen birth rates by more than 3% in the United States (6).  

A deep-dive into thousands of studies and articles dating between 1990 and 2020 found that medically-accurate sex education also showed the following outcomes: 

  • Improved knowledge and attitudes about, and reporting of dating violence (DV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) 

  • Decreased domestic violence and intimate partner violence perpetration and victimization 

  • Increased bystander intentions and behaviors 

  • Improved communication skills and intentions 

  • Child sex abuse prevention 

  • Improved knowledge, attitudes, skills and social/emotional outcomes related to personal safety and touch 

  • Appreciation of sexual diversity 

  • Lower homophobia and reduced homophobic bullying 

  • Expanded understanding of gender/gender norms 

  • Recognition of gender equity, rights, and social justice 

Also, despite what you might think from media coverage, the vast majority of parents and caregivers support access to sex education in schools. Check out  this fact sheet from Planned Parenthood explaining what parents say about sex ed (and also this handy table with what effective sex education included by age).

Here are several additional resources that have some great information about the benefits of medically-accurate and age-appropriate sex ed: 

  • SIECUS: Sex Ed For Social Change sets national standards for what should be included in sex education based on rigorous research. Find it here

  • This one-pager on why sex education is so important is a helpful starting point.  

  • SIECUS's Rationale for Sexuality Education in Schools is chock full of data and research. Click here.   

  • Curious how Sex Ed To-Go meets national standards? Find an overview here. And if you live in California, see how Sex Ed To-Go meets California Healthy Youth Act requirements here.  

  • The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) lays out a clear definition and compelling case for medical accurate sexuality education here.    

Taking Action

The Community Action Toolkit (from SIECUS: Sex Ed For Social Change) gives you the tools you need to become knowledgeable about sex education, build support in your state or community, implement sound policies, and institute or defend effective sex education programs that support and affirm young people’s right to honest information. The Toolkit is designed to serve as a resource for all advocates: students, parents, teachers, school administrators, health professionals, youth-serving professionals, policymakers, and concerned community members. (SIECUS also sends great email updates. Sign up here.) 

Advocates for Youth is a leader in advocating for effective sex ed. Their Honest Sex Education page has helpful links for how to get involved, learn more and join existing campaigns and a great sex ed toolkit about how parents can advocate for better sex education.  

Planned Parenthood Action Fundexplains the major issues in sex education and provides links to get involved in local work.  

Working to Institutionalize Sex Ed (WISE) Toolkit focuses on helping districts implement sex education and has lots of tools and resources. Click  here

For more information or questions about Sex Ed To-Go, email us!

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