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Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

The importance of sex ed

The overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 led to 21 states banning, or majorly restricting, access to safe and legal abortions. Some states criminalized doctors performing the surgeries, while others limited the time frame that allowed a woman to make the decision to complete surgery or medical therapeutics. For many women, this prevented abortion access altogether, as they did not even know they were pregnant before the allowed 6 weeks was over. California was not one of those states. California continues to allow abortion access, and many programs exist across the state aiding pregnant women who are planning to get an abortion. However, California’s access to these resources does not guarantee a protected future for all those who graduate from Redwood. Many students may decide to live in other states for college or move out of California altogether. Whatever the reason, students at Redwood should be better educated on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies. 

Illustration by Ava Stephens

Redwood, like many other high schools, has a mandated sexual education program. These lessons are taught to students their freshman year, in Social Issues class, where topics range from how to properly utilize birth control to the importance of consent. These lectures are mandated by the California Healthy Youth Act, which details that students in grades seven to 12 must receive “comprehensive” sexual and health education.

However, despite the fact that sex education in Social Issues is quite infamous amongst Redwood students, it is far from comprehensive. Regardless of the serious nature of the topics discussed in class, students often find themselves in an environment that is casual and often comedic. Many students do not pay attention to the lessons at all, knowing that Social Issues is an “easy A” and believing that what they are learning is unimportant. However, this is precisely what leads to unwanted pregnancies and ignorance surrounding the topic. This nonchalant attitude stems from the lack of contextualization that the Redwood sexual education program provides. Students are thrown into a classroom with no background knowledge of a subject that is bound to make them uncomfortable or bored, naturally creating debauchery and crass jokes instead of an attentive learning environment. 

The problems with Redwood’s sexual education do not stop at students’ inability to pay attention. Like with any other subject, sex education is forgotten with time, and a lack of reinforcement to the education that students receive leads many to forget their learning altogether. Because a significant portion of the graduating class has no sexual experience by the end of high school, for many Redwood students, their only practice with sex education came from a phallic piece of wood in their freshman class four years prior. 

 Redwood must keep its sex education consistent throughout all four years of high school. Obviously, students do not need to receive another full semester of classes, like in Social Issues, but should be taught lessons bi-annually in SMART. A Stop-and-Learn format would work perfectly for this type of lesson, as SMART teachers would provide an environment for students to learn without judgment. Lesson plans could be designed by the social issues department and facilitated by the SMART teachers, who would directly ask students for feedback and ensure confidentiality. Other than boredom, one of the main reasons that students hardly learn from their Social Issues classes is the fear of being judged for asking questions. By providing a safe and confidential environment, SMART teachers could allow these lesson plans to be informative, but more importantly, engaging and interesting for students.

For now, access to healthcare in California has not been directly affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, this does not mean that Redwood students should be denied the access to continuous and comprehensive sex education that they will need to navigate the real world.

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About the Contributor
Beckett Tudor, Feature Editor
Beckett Tudor is a junior at Redwood High School and a feature editor for the Redwood Bark. He enjoys reading, listening to music and playing with his dog.