Keystone CASE | On The Issues:
Sex Education Reform:
We believe sex education is equally important to a student's success as instruction in math and science. Sex education keeps our youth healthy and safe by equipping them with age appropriate knowledge. Comprehensive, medically accurate sex education helps adolescents understand their growth and development and leads to safer decision making in the future. (See Pennsylvania Healthy Youth Act 2017).
Ending Abstinence-Only Programs:
Abstinence-only programs endanger our youth’s wellness and harms public health. It is ineffective at teaching students healthy practices and hides important information from students. We must abolish abstinence-only programs and move to a more successful model of sex ed that effectively keeps our youth safe, happy and healthy.
Instruction on how to properly use various FDA approved contraceptive methods including, but not limited to, traditional condoms, vaginal condoms, IUD’s, and emergency contraceptive methods and their effectiveness, health benefits, and side effects is crucial to all sex education programs. Far too many students fail to understand proper contraceptive techniques which can result in high risk sexual activity, unintended pregnancy, and contracting sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
Sexually transmitted diseases and infections are a serious risk when partaking in intimate contact. Students should understand the risks of common sexually transmitted disease, prevention techniques and treatment options. Schools, in coordination with local departments of health, should highlight sexually transmitted diseases and infections that are common in their respective areas.
The integrity of our sexual education programs must be maintained by ensuring all educational and supplemental material is consistent, medically accurate, and unbiased. Too many programs focus more on ideology than factual data about adolescent growth/development and sexual wellness. “Medically Accurate” is defined as information supported by peer-reviewed research conducted in compliance with accepted scientific methods and recognized as accurate by a majority of leading professional organizations and agencies with relevant experience, including the American Medical Association and the Department of Health.
Inclusivity and Diversity:
All sex education programs should acknowledge diversity. We want to ensure students of differing backgrounds, including but not limited to race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ability, receive comprehensive, inclusive, and medically accurate sex education. It is vitally important that programs steer away from traditionally heteronormative instruction and that same-sex couples are highlighted as equally as heterosexual couples.
It is impossible to teach a successful relationship, but it is important to foster discussion on what a healthy relationship may look like. Students should understand that relationships are meant to be mutual. Consistent dependency, violence, or coercion are not healthy relationships and can lead to serious problems.
Consent is a vital part of all sex education programs. “Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” (SUNY) Consent is a vital part of all sex education programs.
Accessibility & Transparency:
All sex education programs should commit to complete accessibility and transparency. Parents and guardians have a right to review all materials and instruction surrounding a school's sex education programs.
Students should understand the consequences of their action, whether they may be legal, social, or health related. In particular, it is important to teach students, in coordination with local law enforcement and other governing agencies, the legal consequences of sexual misconduct.
Schools should help students understand their legal right to access local resources for sexual and reproductive health care. It is important that students are taught where they can seek out help locally. This can include clinics and crisis centers.
Parents and legal guardians have the right to refrain from all sex education programs based on their religious and spiritual beliefs. It is important that all programs allow parents to exempt their child via a written and signed letter to the school.