Donald Trump is many things: the 2016 Republican presidential candidate, a (failed) businessman, and a misogynist, to name a few. Perhaps more importantly, he is undeniable proof we need to reform our schools' sex education programs.
The recently leaked audio tapes in which Trump bragged about groping women and the ever-growing list of sexual assault accusations against him have moved sexual consent to the forefront of our national conversation.
Trump’s apparent disregard for women’s autonomy over their own bodies and inappropriate sexual encounters with women have largely been ignored or rationalized away by his fervent supporters.
This type of justification and dangerous thinking must not continue. We need more comprehensive sex ed to prevent future generations from growing up with the same poisonous mindset about sex that Trump has.
In our society, sex is one of those taboo topics that doesn’t get discussed as openly as it should be. When it comes to sex education in schools specifically, the curriculum students receive often is less than informative.
While many sex ed classes focus on ineffective abstinence-only education, others at least cover the basics — condoms, birth control, and STIs. Most fail to address other crucial components of sexual health and wellness.
Two main topics are missing from many sex ed classes: LGBTQ relationships and consent.
All too often, schools are teaching sex ed through a solely heterosexual lens. It is crucial for society to step up and demand more inclusive teaching that does not exclude individuals who do not conform to heteronormative standards. Sexual health classes should be a time for students to openly discuss and learn about topics such as homosexuality, intersexuality, asexuality, gender identity, and more.
By excluding these suppressed topics in the curriculum, schools are effectively reinforcing negative stigmas that sex is wrong or shameful unless it adheres to certain societal norms.
Many sex ed classes also fail to focus enough attention on consent. In light of the recent sexual assault controversies surrounding Trump, it seems clear that we need to be teaching our youth about consensual sex much more diligently.
Conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh recently went on a rant on his radio show ridiculing the idea that “consent is the magic key to the left” and that any type of sexual behavior is acceptable as long as all parties involved agree to it.
“If the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation, then here comes the rape police,” Limbaugh said while discussing Trump’s leaked audio tapes.
This type of mentality is toxic, and Limbaugh’s erroneous statements are just as deplorable as Trump’s.
Progressive political commentator Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk simultaneously countered Limbaugh’s banter and highlighted one of the core shortcoming of sex ed curriculum.
“If it is two adults who say ‘I would like to engage in this sex act with you,’ . . . who is comfortable with saying, ‘I, the third party, am going to stop you from doing it because I disagree with it’” Kulinski said. “He mocks . . . the idea of two people doing what they want as long as they’re not hurting anybody else in the confines of their bedroom.”
The problem with many sex ed classes is not that they directly mock consent or sex that veers from societal norms like Limbaugh. Rather, by failing to merely address these issues openly and discuss them in class, schools are tacitly letting our country’s youth be influenced by the Trumps and Limbaughs of the world who promote a harmful understanding of sex and relationships.
It is our responsibility to ensure younger generations are receiving inclusive education on sexuality. Regardless of one’s personal or religious beliefs on different sexual mores, a proper understanding of hot-button topics like homosexuality, birth control, and sexual assault are paramount to the sexual health and wellbeing of our entire nation.
We need to stop treating our students with kid gloves and stop censoring ourselves from discussing awkward, uncomfortable, and controversial topics surrounding sex. With a sexually informed public, we might just be able to “make America great again.”
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