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Julieta Chiaramonte
12 July 2016
Abstinence Only Sex Ed: Utahs Dangerous Trend
Utah is facing the highest STD epidemic it has ever had, with numbers
such as a 400% increase in men and women. What could be the culprit
for a rise in STDs in such a conservative state? Some blame dating
apps like Tinder and Grindr, but experts are blaming something much
more ironic.
KUTVs Heidi Hatch reported that experts are blaming Utahs
Abstinence Until Marriage sexual education program for the STD
explosion. The Bureau of Epidemiology reported an overall increase by
400% in STDs, especially gonorrhea, this number to females alone
meant a 700% increase. Hartsel, with the Health Department
expressed the answer to this staggering problem: it is something that
needs to be talked about, not avoided. What is even more concerning
is that with gonorrhea being such a problem, it is rapidly becoming
resistant to anti biotic treatment. With Utahs push to remain abstinent
until marriage, how are the STD rates growing extremely out of
The issue stems from Abstinence based sexual education, because it
simply does not work. The Abstinence based program is old school, not
growing with the modern world. For example, Part 510 of Title V of
Social Security Act, list the 8 requirements

Photocredit: https://commons.wikimedia.org

for an abstinence based program. To name a couple as example,

shown below are part E and F:
E: Teaches that sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely
to have harmful psychological and physical effect.

F: Teaches that bearing children out of wedlock is likely to have harmful
consequences for the child, the childs parents, and society.
Although there is nothing wrong with choosing abstinence, the problem
is we are ignoring all options, period. What is not included is that the
program barely touches base with family planning, no talk about
contraceptives and where to get them, and does not include dialogue
concerning sexuality and genders.

Photocredit: www.changefromwithin.org, Positive Sexuality

Unlike the Mean Girls Sex ed teacher above, there are educators who
are taking steps to start teaching Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
Patrick Malone and Monica Rodriguez analyzed Title V, discussing the
effectiveness of its policies. Clearly, most people are drawn to one of
these programs over the other based on their personal morals, ethics,
politics, or religion Malone expressed. This means that teaching
abstinence-based education is not effective because it is biased by
outside factors that have nothing to do with the science of sex. With
this bias, kids are prevented from learning key life skills like
understanding and protecting themselves from STDs, different types
of contraception and how they work, and where to access resources
like testing centers. Abstinence can be an option, but its not
scientifically suitable as a whole explanation.
The two report Comprehensive Sexuality Education to be age
appropriate, proven effective, science-based, complete, unbiased, and
medically accurate, which is needed to slow down the STD rise. With
unbiased sexual education, students can learn the basics, but get
fundamental teachings of resources like contraceptives, family
planning, STD testing, and overall sexual and lifestyle health.

Still stuck on the effectiveness of abstinence based sexual education,

Utah is dwindling. The rise of these STD rates can be seen in
correlation with the 2012 pass of the Abstinence Only sex education
bill passed by Utahs senate. The numbers start skyrocketing the same
year this bill was passed and put into effect in Utahs school systems.
This banned Utah educators from talking about homosexuality,
condoms, or STDs. International Business Times analyzed the bill pass,
stating how Utah would be one of the first states to cut contraceptive
education out of the program altogether, that supporters of the bill
believe sex education should be conducted by the parents. With this
bill, teens are learning the bare minimum of sexual education, or
worse, non. Parents in Utah have the option to not let their children
attend the program.
As a prime resource, Planned Parenthood offers after school programs,
sex education, and sexual education training to parents, guardians,
and educators. On their website, they thoroughly cover Comprehensive
Sexuality Education, why abstinence education does not work, why we
need sexual education, and how to implement it affectively. Parents
who feel their child is learning the wrong concepts, or learning nothing
at all may, may bring their kids to receive a thorough course. Kids and
parents may come together, so they can interact and feel comfortable
coming to their parent for questions or concerns. They also include a
section labeled Safer Sex which goes over why teaching safe sex is a
positive experience. This section covers that it is safer to be
knowledgeable in protection, so STDs can be prevented safely on the
spot, through condoms or barriers. Planned parenthood has been
wonderful in providing resources openly and providing optimal sexual
and lifestyle health in our community.
In conclusion, a Comprehensive Sexual Education is needed to put
STDs at bay. Condoms, STDs, and homosexuality need to be talked
about because these are everyday, common scenarios. In society we
face major advances in the openness of what sexuality and sexual care

entails, whether you choose to stay abstinent or become sexually
active. Kids who werent educated in sexual education don't know any
better, making them high risk for pregnancy or STDs. The educated
understand themselves, their resources, and how to protect them
selves. This is a concept to embrace in order to make an impact in
restoring overall societal health. Education wont hurt your children, but
STDs and sexual mishaps will!

Bureau of Epidemiology. (n.d.). Retrieved July 12, 2016, from
International Business, T. (0003, August). Utah Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed
Bill Bans Public School Talk of Gays, Condoms, STDs. International
Business Times.
Hartsell, J. (2015, March 16). Infection rate for common STD skyrockets
in Utah. AP Regional State Report. Retrieved July 12, 2016, from SLCC
Online Database.
Hatch, H. (2015, May 20). Expert says abstinence-only education
contributing to rise in Utah STD epidemic. Retrieved July 06, 2016, from
Malone, P., & Rodriguez, M. (2011, April 1). Comprehensive Sex
Education vs. Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs. Human Rights,
38(2), 5-22. Retrieved July 12, 2016, from SLCC Database.
Parenthood, P. (n.d.). Implementing Sex Education. Retrieved July 12,
2016, from
Title V. (n.d.). Retrieved July 12, 2016, from