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Sex Education in Schools and Beyond!

Here’s the deal on Sex Ed in Schools:

It’s critical to examine how sex education is facilitated within school systems to understand why we have to advocate for sexual health and education to be facilitated beyond the educational school system.

Not only does sexual education vary between school systems across the U.S., but it also can vary among different schools across school districts in the same states. In Michigan, sex education is determined by local Sex Education Advisory Boards (SEAB). Each school district must have a SEAB in order to have sex education presented in the school, and the District Board of Education will approve all content. If your school district does not have a SEAB, they cannot teach sexual health education aside from the mandated requirements on HIV & STIs.

This means sex education looks different depending upon the school district you live in. Two children living just miles apart could have completely different access to information. It is entirely inequitable to imagine that generations of people will grow up, and have grown up, with different levels of sexual health knowledge because of where they live or go to school. Increasing access to sexual health information adds value to your community.  Youth might not have any sexual health information aside from required health information on STI prevention being taught at their district. Or worse, the programming taught could be excluding folks’ gender identities and sexual orientations, increasing shame, and promoting the victim-blaming rhetoric. Adults might not have access to sexual health information and may be too embarrassed to speak up. It will take our voices to advocate for accessible, accurate, and inclusive education for all people. (For a really great breakdown of sex ed information or to get more involved locally check these resources from MOASH).


Schools cannot and should not be the only place that sex education and sexual health are discussed.

Parents and caregivers play a huge role in dismantling sexual health myths and busting shame. In fact, parents and caregivers have the greatest ability to facilitate these conversations. But it would be wrong for us to assume that parents and caregivers have all the tools to be able to have these conversations. Like all of us, they grew up in a society that promotes sexual shame. Unfortunately, there is a chance that they did not have adequate information and that they still might not have received accurate sexual health information. How can we expect parents and caregivers to have lifelong conversations if no one has ever had a conversation with them? How can we model something that we may not have ourselves?

I work with so many adults who have gaps in sexual health knowledge. In a lot of cases, people expect them to know this information and it can bring up shame to admit that they don’t know about contraception, conception, sexual functioning, or even their own anatomy. I know these aren’t isolated incidents. I know they aren’t alone. We all have misconceptions and misinformation, and as an adult, there aren’t always opportunities where we can have a space that’s free of shame to be able to learn.

Here are some action steps to ensure sex ed is accessible to all: Question what is being taught in our communities.

    1.  What does parental support look like in helping to facilitate these conversations at home between child and parent?
    2. Consider how  students who aren’t in a traditional school setting are being taught this information.
    3. Is the current sexual health and sex education curriculum intersectional, diverse, inclusive, and accessible?

After making this assessment, show up in your community to aid in shaping how these conversations are happening with young people.

Lastly, we all deserve to have access to sexual health information that is accurate, affirming, and intersectional. We deserve to have people of all ages, abilities, races, genders, sexualities, and identities to have safe spaces where they can access information and ask questions without being judged, dismissed, or shamed. It is up to all of us to dismantle oppression and create a more equitable future. One way to start is by advocating for accessible and comprehensive sexuality education for people of all ages.

If you aren’t familiar with these amazing sexual health organizations check them out:

HEART Women & Girls



Planned Parenthood

The Guttmacher Institute

Advocates for Youth


Amanda is a Sexual Health Educator, Sex Therapist, and Violence Preventionist at The Michigan Coalition To End Domestic and Sexual Violence, hoping to generate a conversation to discuss increasing access to age-appropriate, evidence-based, accurate, and affirming sexual health information. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual violence, our trained advocates are available to talk 24 hours a day toll-free at 1-855-VOICES-4 (1-855-864-2374).



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