Sexual Education in the United States is taught in two ways: comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only. Utah is the latter. Comprehensive sex education covers abstinence as an option but it also informs about human sexuality, age of consent, the availability of contraceptives, and techniques about ways to avoid the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases. Whereas abstinence-only, teaches that the only option is waiting for marriage and rejects teaching any contraceptives. The difference between the two approaches has been a controversial subject across the United States.
In recent years, including the most recent legislative session, there have been several bills proposed that would alter the way sex education is taught in Utah. Although some of those bills have gained more and more support, they still ultimately died. Since laws advocating for change are bound to come up again, here’s why some people are pushing for change.
You may be wondering at the effectiveness of the two types of education. According to a census done in 2015, the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate, drum roll please, New Mexico. Which is one of the 27 states who teach abstinence-only sex education, with a teen pregnancy rate of 80 out of a 1,000 girls between the ages of 15-19 had a baby. The state with the lowest teen pregnancy rate? New Hampshire, had a rate of 28 out of a 1,000 girls between the ages of 15-19 had a baby. Oddly enough, New Hampshire is also an abstinence-only state. These facts complicate the issue about deciding which type of education is the best. So where does Utah come in? Utah has a pregnancy rate of 38 out of a 1,000 girls between the ages of 15-19 who became a mom.
In all things, money is a factor, so let’s talk about it. You might not realize that the state of Utah actually gets money from the federal government in exchange for sticking with abstinence-only sex education. In the year 2010, the federal government gave 31,568,720 dollars in federal funding between 30 states to teach abstinence-only programs. Utah alone received 319,037 dollars in federal funding to teach abstinence only.
But let’s explore the other side of this money issue. To raise a child from conception to the age of 18 it costs 233,610 dollars, which averages out to be 14,000 dollars a year to raise one child. On top of this, 25 percent of all teen moms have a second child within 24 months of having their first one and more than 50 percent of teen moms never graduate from high school, and 30 percent of those moms never go back and get their GED. Federal minimum wage in the United States is 7 dollars and 25 cents an hour. A mom working full time, 40 hours a week, on minimum wage would only make 15,000 dollars a year which is well below the poverty line.
So before things get that far, maybe we should talk about some other options. Practicing abstinence only is the only 100 percent effective away to prevent teen pregnancy, and the contractions of STD’s. But, if you’re going to have sex, practice safe sex. Although contraceptives such as condoms, and the pill, are not as effective in preventing the consequences of premarital sex, condoms are closer to 82% effective in preventing both teen pregnancy and STD contraction. Birth control pills, when taken correctly, have a 99% effective rate. With a fair warning that THEY DO NOT PROTECT AGAINST STD’S!
For more information in your state about the type of education, laws, and other sexualtity issues for teens visit https://sexetc.org/action-center/sex-in-the-states/.