Let's talk about sex

Why are people so afraid of accurate information about what people do when they're naked?

Christopher Daniels is a community health educator and outreach specialist for Planned Parenthood.

Christopher Daniels is a community health educator and outreach specialist for Planned Parenthood.


Around the country, adolescents are growing up in a whirlwind of vigorous change. This is both a blessing and a curse in modern society; allowing for some individuals the opportunity of choice, and for others, a padlock of unrelenting judgment. This can most evidently be seen in the rise, fall, rise again, fall again of sexual knowledge and acceptance. Two questions have been asked throughout modern history: Should Americans have access to information about sex and sexual health? How much information should they have?

Christopher Daniels, a community health educator and outreach specialist for Planned Parenthood, questions the existence of a limit on the amount of information people should have.

“Talking and asking questions about our sexual health can be awkward,” Daniels said. “And with rampant misinformation trolling the internet, it is crucial to have a space where anyone—men, women, teens, gay, straight, bisexual and transgender individuals—can get the answers they need.”

“Sexual health and responsibility are the basis for intimate relationships, happy families and having healthy children. Proper sex education allows people to make informed decisions and choices about their sexual and reproductive health.”

In a state with the fourth highest pregnancy rate in America, it's important to have a sanctuary where people from all walks of life can go for information and support.

“The goal of Planned Parenthood is to provide a safe space where people can receive medically accurate and age appropriate information,” he explained. “Free of judgment or stigma.”

The opposition to this view, however, is that by educating young adults in sexual responsibility we are mass-producing an intimately indiscriminate and downright promiscuous youth. Since the dawn of the Common Era, there has been a desire to hide human sexuality. Planned Parenthood's methods and morals have been under scrutiny for just as long as the organization has existed.

To these questions, Daniels says accuracy is key: “Misinformation and lies breed paranoia. People are afraid that a proper sex education bill will promote sex among youth, normalize members of the LGBT community and throw abstinence to the wind.”

A sex education bill passed on a 26-15 party line vote in the Nevada Assembly, but later failed in the Senate. The bill would have replaced a 30-year-old sex education program implemented in schools grade eight and above, but would also have enacted unrelated fields of study.

“This bill would have updated and standardized the sex education system across the state,” Daniels said.

Currently in the United States, only 22 states and the District of Columbia require schools to include sexual education in their curriculum. Of these, only 19 mandate that all information must be medically, factually and technically accurate.

The most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey indicated that more than 47 percent of all high school students say they have had sex and 15 percent said they have had sex with four or more partners during their lifetime. Among students who had sex in the three months prior to the survey, 60 percent reported condom use and 23 percent reported birth control pill use during their last sexual encounter.

“There is a battle that exists between parents and schools over who is responsible for educating our youth about sex,” he said. “This battle halts progress.”

Sexual and reproductive health standards are always changing, but sex education has not. Recently, Nevada became the 16th highest for STD's based on country-wide surveys. Still, though, many schools are teaching abstinence as the only option.

“Programs need to be culturally appropriate,” Daniels said. “Sensitive to gender, sexual orientation, social class, etc. They cannot be one size fits all.”

Planned Parenthood is doing everything in its ability to stay on the cutting edge of information, according to Daniels, including special workshops and classes designed to help different demographics. “¡Cuidate!” is one of these programs, which is customized for Latina women ages 13-17 with an emphasis on pregnancy prevention. They also have programs focusing on helping teen parents complete high school and maintain their family size and educating parents on how to discuss sex and reproductive health with their children.

“What could be more important than educating our youth about the consequences—both good and bad—of sex and equip our populace with the tools necessary to make responsible sexual decisions?” he said.

Daniels believes the importance of reproductive health and sexual awareness goes far beyond just educating high school students on STDs and unplanned pregnancy, however.

“Honesty is critical and essential in sexual health. Honestly communicating one's wants and needs in a relationship results in a healthier, more equitable partnership. Much of the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy would be eliminated if we were honest with our doctors, with our partners, and with ourselves. If we honestly admitted and openly faced the problems facing our country, our community, whether it's teen pregnancy, health care, or STD prevalence, we can begin to properly address and solve these issues.”