Going to a religious school meant sex education was out of the question for me. My health teacher told our class we were “too immature” to handle the notorious talk. We weren’t ready to discuss sex, but that didn’t stop the school from kicking out a student when she got pregnant.
Continuing this practice of punishing people for having sex, Ohio lawmakers have recently proposed banning all abortions in the state — going even further than the recent bans in Texas — despite neglecting to teach its schools basic education on contraception. Ohio law stresses that abstinence-only education be taught in schools, and it is not required to be comprehensive or even medically accurate. That means teaching what qualifies as consent and contraceptive options are optional and often downright discouraged.
What’s worse: these already lackluster requirements only apply to public schools. Private schools, like the one I attended, have no guidelines for teaching sexual education and are free to skip it completely if the school desires. These private schools are often religious in nature and, in my experience, sex is a taboo topic that must be avoided until someone inevitably gets pregnant, and that pregnancy is punished by kicking out those involved.
Despite the practically nonexistent education on consent and contraception in our schools, some people expect that women should somehow understand how to safely engage in intercourse and that unwanted pregnancies are a failing on the woman’s part. The comments on NBC’s “How Texas’ anti-abortion law is having long-term impacts on women” show this firsthand:
How does the average woman get birth control? Is it free? Do you have to take it every day? These questions are not common knowledge, and the aforementioned taboo of discussing sex can leave some women in situations in which they are unable to ask how to safely engage in intercourse. What people don’t understand is that it’s not as easy as just “taking birth control and not getting pregnant.”
Ohio is far from the only state lacking in sex education. Only 24 states mandate that sex education must be taught in schools and, of those states, a pitiful 13 are required to make sure it is medically accurate. Only 18 states are required to include contraception in their sex education while 26 mandate that abstinence is emphasized.
Statistically, teenagers who receive a comprehensive sex education are less likely to get pregnant than those who receive no sex education or the abstinence-only lessons Ohio teaches. Out of the top 10 states with the highest teen pregnancy, five are not required to teach sex education in their schools.
Instead of banning abortions, Ohio, and especially the U.S. as a whole, needs to start sufficiently teaching young men and women sex education. Doing so will decrease the rate of unwanted pregnancies before they exist. You can’t withhold basic reproduction facts from people and then punish women when they get pregnant by forcing them to have a child they are not ready for.
Charlene Pepiot is a senior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her, firstname.lastname@example.org.