I'm an obstetrician-gynecologist of 20+ years and a mom of 2 young adults who went through the Massachusetts public school system. I have cared for many young people in my career and have been disappointed by how woefully unprepared they often are with regards to the sex and relationship education that they have received in our school systems. I am often doing a great deal of teaching in my practice regarding normal anatomy and reproductive functions of their bodies, changes at the time of puberty, the importance of consent, recognizing and preventing abuse and dating violence, and how to prevent STIs and pregnancy. I have been astonished and disappointed by the knowledge gaps that I often find in caring for my patients, many of whom I have treated because of the consequences of these knowledge gaps. I have also been disappointed to hear of my own children's experience with sex education in public school, which seems to me to be very much fear-based, instead of encouraging and teaching young people how to develop healthy and happy relationships as they progress to adulthood. It benefits all of us when young people are knowledgeable regarding how to have healthy relationships and we can avoid the undue burden that results from preventable problems such as STIs and unwanted teen pregnancies. I hope that we can all agree that passing the Healthy Youth Act is a win-win for all.
-Kirti, Gynecologist, UMass Memorial Healthcare
Teachers explained the details
My mom and dad sometimes talked about it with me but never in detail, so I was always confused. I only got the chance to understand sexual health when I came to the states in high school. Some of my teachers explained the details.
My Sex Ed helped me understand things better, I knew some things like condoms birth control and etc. But in school, I learned more important things about how to be healthy while having sex and what are some ways to stay safe while having sex. Things like IUDs, and birth control implants made me realize that there isn't only just the pill but more things you can use to prevent pregnancy. I also learned that there are a lot of ways people can get STDs not by just having sex but more than that. Getting better Sex Education can teach you and a lot more students how to be safe during sex, how to not prevent any pregnancy or STDs, and Mostly how to stay healthy from anything.
Listen to peoples pronouns
As a 10th grader, it showed me to open up and listen to peoples pronouns and sexuality. Most people don't share their pronouns because they don't get a chance to speak and share their gender and how they want to get called, that's why many people including myself guess wrong.
I think that if people in Massachusetts had a better sex ed there wouldn't be so many pregnant teenage girls and if they teach sex ed starting in middle school would be better. I think there are a lot of middle schools and high schools where they don't talk about it, so many girls end up pregnant
Sex Ed was geared towards cis straight men and women. There was no talk of people of the same gender having sex, trans people having sex etc. I didn’t learn much of anything in that class and it was very difficult not having the proper resources and education. If I would’ve had a competent class that was inclusive, I think I would’ve been much more aware of my own body, what I was looking for etc. LGBTQ+ folks are human beings and we deserve to see ourselves in sex education. Young developing people will be seeing these videos and they deserve to see sex education from a lens that includes everyone.
I learned about informed consent! I did not have sex until I was 21, and it was a wonderful experience. I was old enough to process the emotions that come with such a vulnerable experience, had birth control options, and was able to feel safe. started in the classroom learning what consent was, and what my options were.
HYA is urgently needed in a time that has become increasingly hostile to the LGBTQ+ community
Throughout my sexual health education, I was taught about sex only from the perspective of cisgender and heterosexual individuals. It added to my shame as a trans queer person - that sex involving me was wrong, gross, inappropriate, and immoral. It made me afraid to openly ask questions that could have protected me, especially regarding contraceptives and STIs. My sex education in Massachusetts public schools failed me - and more so, shamed me. If the Healthy Youth Act is passed, it will save kids like me from questioning their worth, dignity, and right to exist. This is urgently needed in a time that has become increasingly hostile to the LGBTQ+ community. Please vote to save the lives of kids and future adults like me.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have attended a high school that included healthy relationship education in Sex Ed. That class helped me realize the relationship I was in at the time was abusive, and empowered me to leave. I don't know how much longer I would have stayed in that toxic situation if I hadn't learned about what a healthy vs unhealthy relationship looks like in school.
The sex ed I received in the 1990s was about the dangers of sex. Unwanted pregnancy, disease, and violence. I was scared of sex before I had a chance to have any first hand experience. These attitudes had negative impact on many intimate relationships and in my relationship to my own body and sexuality. I have spent my adult life unlearning this attitude about sex. Yes, all of those risks important to talk about. But sex is not defined by them. My entire life - romantic, sexual, interpersonal and intrapersonal development - would have been improved if I had received formal education about how to trust my own body, how to navigate consent when I myself felt conflicted about an encounter, and how to explore fluidity in my own sexual orientation. These feelings had been repressed for 25 years, and caused a lot of shame and confusion for me. I pray that students now can grow up with a sex-positive, medically accurate, and psychologically sound, and trauma-informed sex ed.