High School sex education according to college students


Agnes Kurtzhals

College students share their insights into what they believe should constitute a sex education program in high school education and who is responsible for teaching children about sex. Graphic courtesy of Agnes Kurtzhals.

Clare Hornung, News Writer

In Nebraska high schools, sex education is not a requirement, but if a school chooses to teach sex ed, it must emphasize abstinence as the expected standard, according to the article “Nebraska’s Sex Education Snapshot” found on the Sex Ed for Social Change website.

College students have shared their insights into what they believe should constitute a sex education program in high school education and who is responsible for teaching children about sex.

Kehr wrote a paper recently about sex education. The assignment was to write about something that was controversial that you were passionate about.

“Sex education needs to change,” Ella Kehr, a UNL student, said. “It has been wronged for so long, and through this paper I wanted to show why it needs to be changed. The purpose was to advocate, to advocate for human rights because it is a human right to have a proper sex education.”

Audrey Worthing, a WSC student, also said that sex education is a very controversial issue.

“It’s hard to know where to draw the line, what goes too far, what isn’t enough, what teachers should talk about,” Worthing said.

Some of the controversy regarding the issue of sex education has to do with who should be doing the teaching, and who is responsible for determining who should make decisions about what is being taught to students.

Worthing believes that the duty to teach children about sex education falls to the parents. She said it should not be the school’s priority and the curriculum may conflict with what the parents want their children to know, which brings up ethical concerns.

“The parents are, in my opinion, the best in determining what they want their child to know, and they know how much their child can handle,” Worthing said.

Michael Kurtzhals, a WSC student, also said parents may not agree with their child’s school teaching the subject, but still thought it should be taught regardless.

Kehr said she found articles advocating for sex experts to be brought into schools to teach sex education. She agrees this would be a good idea because teachers that you know and know you can make the environment uncomfortable. Kehr also found there are three different programs used to teach sex education. These options include abstinence-only, abstinence-plus, which also covers contraceptive options, and comprehensive programs.

Kehr said she had an awful experience at her school. The male teacher excluded LGBTQ students and brought his own religious bias and sexism into the course.

“The program was as sexist and homophobic as it possibly could have been,” Kehr said.

Kurtzhals said he believes sex education should be taught in school because it allows children to explore their identities and allows them to understand and accept other identities.

“I think that sex education courses are important to high school curriculum and students should be exposed to different relationships and gender spectrums, as well as healthy resources for students to have access to in the community,” Kurtzhals said.

Unlike Kehr, Kurtzhals did not go through a sex education course in school, but he did share that his partner said in his course there was no coverage of same-sex or alternative relationships.

Worthing said that she believes all schools should do as far as sex education is explain changes in the body. For her that’s what sex education is and that is where the need should lie.

Kurtzhals said a negative impact of not having a sex education course was that students won’t know how to handle pregnancies or STDs and STIs. He said that there were students who became pregnant at a young age in his school.

“There are benefits regarding sex and risks that need to be elaborated on so that humans can be properly prepared for how to handle their bodies and how to handle sex,” Kehr said.

When there is not sex education, Kurtzhals said students may turn to personal experimentation, online resources and possibly internet p*rn.

“On the internet there are people that troll these websites, that look for users and you know you do leave a digital footprint when you look this stuff up,” Worthing said.

She said teenagers are turning to TV shows, movies, video games, and even books. They may participate in activities and groups that may or may not promote a very healthy environment.

“This raises concern that when parents don’t address issues, children could get into contact with unsavory characters that might mean their children harm,” Worthing said.

Sex education is a complex issue and college students, parents, and citizens have different ideas about how it should be taught, by whom it should be taught, and what subject matter it should encompass. There are many alternatives, including Wattpad, that students turn to when they have no resources to teach them about sex education. So, whether it be parents, teachers, sex experts, or community resources, college students seem to agree that high school students should have a safe space to discuss their bodies and intercourse.