In response to “Franklin Graham urges Christians to run for office, school boards to control sex-ed classes,” (www.charlotteobserver.com, Oct. 24):
Mr. Graham, we walk on common ground and reach for common goals. We both love the young women and men of our community and want to support them in living happy and healthy lives. We both view sex as a serious matter, and we want adolescents to abstain from sexual activity and make relationship choices that are healthy, loving and respectful. I hear your concern that a 12-year-old was learning about sex in school. The greater danger is if she does not understand how STDs are spread, the dangers of early sexual behavior, how to protect her body and how to refuse sexual advances.
Comprehensive Sex Education Promotes Health and Abstinence
Comprehensive sex education, which is abstinence-based, reduces rates of sexual activity, teen pregnancy and STDs considerably more than abstinence-only education. It also teaches our young people how to identify sexual harassment and abuse and how to seek support. As a nation, as we look for solutions, it is critical that we focus on educating our young women and men.
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Parents Want Schools to Teach Comprehensive Sex Education
A 2009 survey of parents conducted by UNC found that 91.8 percent of parents wanted sex education to be taught in schools. Comprehensive sex education teaches about healthy relationships, FDA-approved contraceptives and that abstinence is the best and most effective method of preventing STDs and unwanted pregnancy.
Why Does A 12-Year-Old Need To Know What Oral Sex Is?
By the end of ninth grade, approximately one in five children has engaged in oral sex and over half of teens aged 15-19 have had oral sex. Many do not consider oral sex as sex and consequently do not know that it can lead to acquiring STDs, including HIV.
Funding Comprehensive Sex Education is Fiscally Responsible
According to the National Campaign, in 2015 there were 7,641 births to N.C. teens, the majority of which were unplanned. Teen births in N.C. cost the public about $325 million in 2010. My 2016 research revealed that students receive about five hours per year of sex education and it ends in ninth grade. What if sex education were taught throughout middle and high school? A 15 percent reduction in unplanned N.C. teen births would result in 500 fewer teen births which could potentially save taxpayers more than $21 million a year.
Call to Action
I am a mother, wife and UNC grad student who has conducted research on sex education. I am a woman whose life is centered on my relationship to God. From each of those platforms, I call to action all Christians and all parents to advocate for a four-fold annual increase in money for comprehensive sex education in N.C. public schools.
Call your senator and your representative and request increased funding for comprehensive sex education in order to:
▪ provide adequate time and number of teachers for it;
▪ fund the position of Healthful Living Coordinator for each county.
I invite you, Mr. Graham, to join schools, community health advocates, teachers and all those working to achieve our common goals. Let us unite and support comprehensive sex education in N.C. public schools.
Considine is a health education consultant and a Masters in Public Health Leadership student at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. firstname.lastname@example.org