By Bonnie Bremer, guest writer.
At Loy Norrix High School, the required elective of Health is just that – a requirement. Most students and faculty members shy away from the necessary discussion of sexual education and health. Teachers are more interested in teaching uncommon theorems than tools or proper equipment for handling everyday situations.
Currently, colleges in Utah, Maryland, and Michigan are integrating a different type of sexual education curriculum.
According to the website the New York Times, Jennifer Medina writes in an article titled, Sex Education: Yes Means Yes but It’s Tricky, “California is the first state to require consent courses in the sexual education curriculum in high school.”
All high schools would benefit from this new type of consent course in sexual education because it is a relevant and needed topic of discussion.
In high school, the conversation of sexually active students is uncomfortable and usually avoided. Principals tend to take the, “ignorance is bliss” route, instead of facing these student issues head on.
Teenagers are having sex. Instead of trying to distract from the problem, administrators should prepare students with the necessary skills of talking to potential sexual partners.
According to the same article from the New York Times, “the goal of these new consent classes in sexual education is, “to improve the way colleges and universities deal with accusations of rape and reduce the number of young people who feel pressured into unwanted sexual conduct.”
These types of courses would explore the definition of consent in a sexual context.
“When I think of consent, I think of two mature individuals communicating with one another to come to an agreement with which they both feel comfortable and right for one another,” said Rebecca Achenbach.
Achenbach is the parent of sophomore Lydia Achenbach currently attending Loy Norrix. As a parent of a student in high school, Achenbach feels it is the schools’ and parents’ responsibility to educate on these types of topics. This is contrary to most parents’ opinions on the topic of sexual education in schools.
Most parents do not want their teenagers learning about sexual reproduction unless it is taught through abstinence. Parents do not want to promote the sexual activity between high school students.
The problem with this idea is, students engaging in sexual activity are not properly educated. Consent classes added on to sexual education does not promote the idea of sexual activity, they promote the idea of proper conversation.
Whether it’s a party or a couple wanting to take the next step, consent is necessary.
“I’m so relieved that consent is becoming a mandatory topic when it comes to sexual education. Consent is the most important thing when it comes to sex,” said Western Michigan University student Regina McLeod.
McLeod is a part of the Theatre for Community Health and produces plays with a collection of other students that talk about current issues that college students are facing, consent being a main topic.
The New York Times describes these classes as focusing on Affirmative Consent. This is the principle that a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot give proper consent to sexual activities. They would include different situations in which consent cannot be given and situations in which consent is needed.
These types of classes would also allow students to not feel completely alone when making decisions regarding to sexual relations.
“Teens need to know they have resources available all around them such as the YWCA, Planned Parenthood and even if they want to come visit Sindecuse at Western,” said McLeod.
Some would argue that these classes are not appropriate for a high school setting. This is due to the fact that high school students are ‘not mature enough’ for this situation. However, since these classes are not offered in high schools, students are not properly prepared for possible pressuring situations.
“Talking about safe sex is important,” said McLeod, “People having sex need to know they have a choice, especially younger people. 1 in 4 women experience rape […] and my hope is that those numbers will go down with the message of consent being spread in schools at an earlier age.”
Denying these types of classes is not only putting our teens at more of a risk, but not allowing all students to get proper education on safe, consensual sex. A high school setting is the perfect place to capture a mass amount of students’ attention on an otherwise hushed topic. Students will be able to receive the correct information and feel safe doing so.
“As a parent my child doesn’t always feel comfortable with what I might say; therefore she may not ask,” said Achenbach, “School amongst peers in a comfortable, open environment would allow teens to have discussions where opinions, concerns, and frustrations could be brought up.”
Following in California’s footsteps, high schools in Michigan should require a consent curriculum to be added into the already required sexual education curriculum. These classes promote the open discussion between sexual partners and the safety of sexually active students. Students should be able to learn how to make safe sexual decisions in a school setting.
“I want her [my daughter] to feel respected, loved, understood, and I want her to feel that it was a decision made by her, and her partner, not forced or unwanted,” said Achenbach.