Technically, one could argue that sex education is being taught at AISB, but in the form of advisory discussions. Basically, we’re asked to talk about romantic relationships and how we should act and treat each other in those relationships, as well as consent and communication.

But what about the topic of sex itself, or protection against STDs or unwanted pregnancies? Should the school do more to educate us on this subject?

What does our community think?

Although 96% of surveyed AISB high school students stated that they had received some sort of sex education, and 86% think it was beneficial, 70% of them stated that they felt like some things needed to be more thorough. One student stated that: “Even though consent is an important component of sex education, students need to be aware about the other components that are vital to the ‘act.’ These would indicate components such as issues related to one’s health, emotional issues towards sex that might appear while being in a relationship, and also, how to be careful in a world where the rate of sex acts is very high amongst teenagers”.

According to Grade 8 and 9 Counselor Michaela Young, “It’s hard to teach sex education at international schools because we don’t know [students’] backgrounds and what knowledge they already have since the majority of [them] come and go.” 

This could be a factor of why sex education is not that thorough at AISB when it comes to the topic of sex itself. Another issue is that there are approximately 60 different nationalities represented at the school—meaning that both parents and students can have very different expectations when it comes to sex, which makes it hard to navigate the topic.

Why is sex education beneficial?

US nonprofit organization Planned Parenthood provides research that proves the positive effects of sex education courses, including: delaying sex until students are older, an increase in condom use, and also a higher rate of contraception use when they do have sex, reducing the frequency of sex and reducing the number of sexual partners. The research shows that receiving sex education is essential and that while it may be awkward to talk about, sex is a significant part of being human. It’s important that students are given the information they need to stay safe and make good, wise, and healthy decisions.

Major American daily newspaper The Washington Post recently published an article on the “decrease in sex among high schoolers,” reporting that in 2015, 41.2% of surveyed high school students had sexual intercourse–which is a significant decrease from 46.8% two years earlier. The same study found that 48.5% of black students said they’d had sex, which is a steep drop from 60.6% two years earlier.

While the researchers say they cannot attribute the trend “directly to any specific intervention,” experts have pointed to a number of factors–most importantly access to “straightforward information about sex and contraception” in school.

Consequences of being uneducated

One of the major problems with not explicitly teaching sex education in schools, is that students will find other ways to get the information.

In an article on Psychology Today, author Carolyn C. Ross, M.D, M.P.H, writes about the effects of early exposure to sexual contact. She says that although “research is just beginning to assess the potential damage, there is reason to believe that early exposure to sexual content may have the following undesirable effects: early sex, high-risk sex, sex addiction, and sexual violence.”

According to Young, it’s natural to be curious and it’s important that you are being taught factual information by professionals or people that know what they are talking about, instead of seeing or hearing information that might be inaccurate on the internet. This can lead to misunderstanding or confusion between the two people involved in the relationship.

How could we teach sex education at AISB in the future?

Ten percent of surveyed students suggested that either the “immaturity of certain colleagues” or “feeling uncomfortable saying your opinion in front of people in your class” is why sex education could be less effective.

One student stated that: “Discussing both contraceptives and STDs is not very effective if done in the entire advisory class, due to immaturity of certain students. Breaking into small focus groups would be much more effective.” This would certainly allow students to feel more comfortable sharing ideas–resulting, of course, into students learning more.

Although talking about consent and romantic relationships is important, it is essential that there be more discussion about sex itself, as well as the the things involved with sex such as contraceptives and STDs. Students should get as much content as possible and this is especially essential in high school as it is natural for students to become more curious once they hit puberty.

Tell us: Do you think AISB should offer sex education? Comment below to start a conversation!