What Defines Medically Accurate?
According to current Wisconsin Law, “medically accurate” means information that is scientifically−based and published, where appropriate, in peer−reviewed journals and textbooks.
While the bill does state that education must be found in peer-reviewed journals and textbooks, it does NOT specifically note it should be approved materials from professional departments such as the American Medical Association.
So let’s look at some of the facts right now.
In Wisconsin, sources of sexual education is usually from multiple different fashions. Our class during the Fall 2015 semester did research on different topics and found out this:
- Many students got information from multiple sources which can range from school to friends to the Internet.
- Many got information from another adult such as a teacher or a parent.
It was also agreed on by the majority of the class that most parents trust that school teaches sexual education without teaching it themselves.
- The common factor is most of these kids are getting an education deemed worthy enough by their respective high schools.
Looking into the sexual education standards by official websites, recommendations for sexual education from the American Medical Association are as followed:
- Based on rigorously per reviewed science
- Showing promises for dealing sexual activity to prevent HIV and other STDs
Have integrated strategies to make condoms available while providing factual information for all types of sexual activity, abstinence and use of contraceptives while showing ways to avoid pregnancy and STDs
- Part of the health program
- Address the LGBT needs
- Has parental, health professional, and community members involved
- Is age appropriate
Those are the standard recommended that should be followed and most of the time, that is not seen in its entirety.
The AMA set these for schools to use as guidelines and the AMA works also with the Surgeon General to create programs for sexual and health education. This valuable information is something that school. districts in Wisconsin can basically leave out if they deem fit. They pick and choose what they want,
School districts will respond to having things age appropriate but not everything is taught, in fact, the bill allows school districts to bypass following the AMA’s recommendations which isn’t what is encouraged by the official websites.
The most important issue that is seen in today lack of medically accurate information are the people who deliver the information. Most people who teach these lessons are the school’s gym teachers and most of the time, those teachers are following a curriculum found in textbooks.
School districts in Wisconsin follow the abstinence only program also allowing school to choose not to teach sex ed. The program also adds bullying, reproductive health, sexual responsibility, and reproductive physiology and anatomy.
While this is all good information to know, it is NOT following all of the recommended guidelines by the AMA which should be implemented back into school districts. With having a mix of both abstinence and contraceptives, results can find information such as those found in the UK where more girls are using condoms, know how to say no, and most likely have their sexual experiences be full of consent, just as Doskoch reports in his research.
Doskoch from the UK has done research on teens in the UK and his research concluded that 80% of females who got both abstinence plus contraceptive education were likely to use a form of contraceptive compared to the 74% of females who only got abstinence only programs. Even with abstinence only, the percentage of girls using contraceptives is high. This is a goal the United States or even Wisconsin should reach for.
Doskoch’s research can also conclude that doing both programs are better off for students. For my recommendations, teaching both informs students of both options and lets them decide what they should or should not do when it comes to their sexual activity. At that point, students can make educated decisions or know how to say no to pressure leading to sex.
With better knowledge on contraceptives mixed with this abstinence programs, it can help bring down 80% of unwanted teen pregnancy down and further hope that all students are getting the information they need to have happy, healthy, and safe sexual and romantic relationships.
Everyone deserves the right to medically accurate information. The first step in Wisconsin is to start once again following AMA guidelines and going off of the information provided by them.
Doskoch, P. (2012). Youth have healthier sexual outcomes if their sex education classes discuss contraception. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 44, 270
See also: What Effective Sex Education Looks Like