Kent State needs to require sex education

Kali Price

I learned the most about sex by watching MTV.

I never had sex education in high school because I went to a Catholic, all-girls school.

In sophomore year health class, we learned about eating disorders, healthy eating and ebola – we watched Outbreak a few times. We were supposed to learn about condoms and birth control in morality junior year, but instead, we learned that condoms and birth control were placebos and that all good Catholics wait until they’re married to have sex. We were forced to take certain religion classes every year, and trust me, junior year morality was a little too late to learn about abstinence for most of my classmates.

In my junior year, a sophomore had a baby. When I graduated, two girls in my class were pregnant. One of them was our prom queen, who had her baby a few weeks after graduation.

Obviously my high school isn’t anything like public school.

But by watching “True Life” and those specials MTV used to make about sex and HIV and AIDS, I learned a little bit about condoms, sexually transmitted diseases and ways to protect yourself. On World AIDS Day this past December, MTV aired specials the entire day about AIDS and people who live with the disease.

But MTV shows aren’t a sufficient replacement for sex education.

Most of my friends at Kent State didn’t have such extremely conservative sex education as I did, but most of them didn’t learn anything about STDs or safe sex either.

And it’s obvious that Kent State needs to do more to teach students about safe sex. The Daily Kent Stater reported Tuesday that only 30 percent of sexually active undergraduate students surveyed regularly use condoms. As the headline said, that number really is alarming.

Also, the majority of those surveyed said they hadn’t gotten any information on campus about avoiding AIDS or HIV.

I’ve noticed the latter. I’ve lived in the residence halls for the past two-and-a-half years, and the resident assistants do what they can to help educate on-campus students. Every year since I’ve been at Kent State, I’ve seen bulletin boards about safe sex and posters for programs about safe sex.

But no one can make me read a bulletin board. Residents aren’t forced to attend those programs.

In the freshman orientation classes, students are required to attend a health issues program, and some programs are about safe sex.

Many students don’t receive appropriate sex education before coming to Kent State either. Under Ohio law, schools are encouraged to teach abstinence-only sex education. In fiscal year 2005, Ohio received $7,743,958 in federal funding for abstinence-only sex education programs, according to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

But Kent State needs to change its attitude about teaching safe sex. All freshmen should be required to attend a program about safe sex, whether it be in the residence halls, during Week of Welcome or in freshman orientation classes.

Although students’ freshman year of college may be a bit too late to teach them about safe sex, Kent State needs to help educate students about safe sex until laws change about requirements in high school.

Kali Price is a junior newspaper journalism major and assistant forum page editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].