Despite efforts, UT’s sex ed proves inefficient

Gabby Sanchez

In my middle school health class, we swapped water between plastic cups in a game to learn about sexually transmitted infections.  At the end of the game our teacher revealed who received an STI and who got lucky. We giggled at whose cup changed color, which signaled an infection, and boasted when our cup remained clear. This follows us to high school, where many of us begin our sex life. Never learning about safe sex, we still hope that we remain lucky.

In Texas, sex education is not required by law. If a district does create a program it must emphasize abstinence above all other forms as the primary mode of protection from STIs and pregnancy. Districts must also give parents the option to opt their children out of any sex education programs. This means that a student could enter college with no prior sex education. 

With these huge gaps in education for children when it comes to healthy sex it’s no wonder the CDC reports that Texas is in the top 15 states when it comes to rates of STIs such as syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea.

According to data from the University Health Services on campus, testing for STIs has been on a steady incline over the last five years, but so has the percentage of positive results. Between the 2014–2015 and 2015–2016 school year, the rate of positive herpes test results increased by 5 percent.

The UHS should receive credit for their effort to raise awareness when it comes to the importance of healthy sex, instituting many programs such as condom distribution and a sex trivia workshop. However, over 2/3 of students on campus are sexually active, but 50 percent or less report using some form of contraception during their last sexual encounter. This may mean the university is not doing enough to provide the information and tools necessary to students to ensure a healthy sexuality. 

The University makes an effort to combat alcohol misuse and sexual assault on campus through programs like Haven and AlcoholEdu. If the University required every freshman to complete a sex education program along with the AlcoholEdu and Haven program (which teaches about sexual assault), students would enter college knowing all the options when it comes to safe sex and the importance of it. Those who never received extensive information would finally receive it as adults, and those who had would learn even more in-depth.

There is an opportunity to catch students up when it comes to sex education, but it needs to be more engaging and comprehensive for every student on campus. It is not just about using condoms and birth control. It’s about giving students the tools they need to make responsible decisions while they’re at the University. It’s about knowing when to get tested to avoid long lasting damages from STIs. It’s about letting nothing get in the way of a student’s academic success, especially an STI or unplanned pregnancy. 

Sanchez is a journalism freshman from Round Rock.