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Is it time to rethink sex ed?

Posters are displayed in the classroom of Health Education teacher Leticia Jenkins at James Monroe High School in North Hills, California, where her ninth grade students learn lessons on life amid a skyrocketing surge in sexually transmitted diseases in California.
Posters are displayed in the classroom of Health Education teacher Leticia Jenkins at James Monroe High School in North Hills, California, where her ninth grade students learn lessons on life amid a skyrocketing surge in sexually transmitted diseases in California.

America’s teenagers are having fewer babies. 

The teenage birth rate has dropped dramatically over the last two decades. As of 2020, it’s down75 percent from its peak in 1991, according to the CDC.

Advocates say comprehensive sex education and access to contraception are two  reasons for that decline. 

But, in a post-Roe world, some states are rethinking their sex ed requirements. Parents are getting involved too, voicing their concerns about what sex ed classes now cover.

Curricula vary wildly across the country. Mississippi, the U.S. state with the highest teen birth rate, requires that sex education be abstinence-focused. In Oklahoma, the state with the fourth-highest teen birth rate, sex education is not required.

Only three states (California, Washington, and Oregon) require that sex education be comprehensive. In some places,like Indiana,sexual health educators are reporting online threats and harassment over such classes

We hear from teachers, parents and students from around the country. What changes do they want to see? 

At the end of this program, you’ll hear a story from KUNC’s Rae Solomon that we aired as part of AmericaAmplified’s“Democracy from the Ground Up” project. America Amplified is a CPB-funded initiative to support community engaged journalism in public media. 

Copyright 2022 WAMU 88.5

Anna Casey