With current sexual assault cases rocking Hollywood and, it seems, most of the world, one would think it smart to educate our generation’s youth about sex and consent. However, not everyone agrees and Kingswood Oxford is among the high schools that do not properly teach sex-ed.
In a recent Planned Parenthood poll on sex education, 93 percent of parents supported having sex education taught in middle school, and 96 percent of parents supported having sex education taught in high school, yet only 24 states and the District of Columbia require public schools to teach sex education.
However, because KO is a private school, the administration and board are not bound by state regulation and can choose not to include certain courses. The little bit of sexual education that KO students do receive is part of a one semester seventh grade health class and an optional 75-minute freshmen VQV course which covers puberty, contraception, the top three sexually transmitted diseases and how to protect oneself from them, the emotional consequences of sex, sexual history, consent, coercion, and rape. While these topics are important, due to the fact that the class is only an hour and a half on top of being optional, KO is not doing enough to really educate the students on everything they could cover. School Counselor Chastity Rodriguez teaches the class but has complained that the course is optional and, because of this, many students choose to opt out.
People choose to attend KO and other similar prep schools, but it can’t just be about academics and athletics; our school needs to do its job by making every student an informed member of the community. In this day and age, knowledge is power more than ever before, and students should be trained in athletics, educated academically, and informed on a variety of other topics that can be covered in sex-ed.
We, as a community, need to help our students put their best foot forward. The KO News strongly believes that sexual education is important because as kids grow up, they face important decisions about sexuality, relationships and their own bodies. Those decisions and conversations can be hard to navigate when students don’t have the tools or knowledge to understand them.
VQV is not enough at KO; it is not enough for the program to be optional and one class long. VQV should not only be mandatory, but it should take multiple classes to delve into every topic. Our school must do more to provide students with inclusive and honest information and skills regarding sexual health and consent. A proper course should include education surrounding puberty and reproduction, contraception, relationships, sexual violence prevention, body image, gender identity and sexual orientation. These are heavy topics and could not possibly be covered in one sitting.
The lack of knowledge around sex and consent is detrimental, especially today when there is so much online for kids to read about. While consent is a part of the conversation Ms. Rodriguez leads during the session, consent itself could take an entire period to teach.
Every young person has the right to lead a healthy and happy life, and if parents won’t prepare and talk to their kids about sexual health, it is our schools’ responsibility to educate them.
Correction: May 8, 2018
A previous version of this editorial misstated that the Upper School VQV class fails to cover issues of consent and rape. Changes have been made to the article to accurately convey the course content of VQV, changes which have taken place over the last two years.