I come from one of the most rural areas of Maine. I attended Central Aroostook High School in Mars Hill. I graduated in 2016 with a total of 38 students. Out of those 38 students, four of them had a baby before graduating. This means that roughly 10 percent of my graduating class became parents before they even legally became “adults.”

Looking back on my time in high school I can recall having third period health class sophomore year with a teacher who also doubled as the varsity baseball coach and physical education teacher. As a 16-year-old student with a changing body and the newly found freedom of high school, sexual education should be one of the most important classes we can offer for a high school student. In my sexual education class I was taught nothing about sexual health. I had no clue what an STD was, had never heard the words “planned parenthood,” was given little too no knowledge about birth control or other forms of contraception.

Instead, I was taught at a public high school that “abstinence” and praying to God were the only routes that I could take to avoid sexual activity. It is evident by the teen pregnancy rate at my high school that the message was not translated clearly.

Although it is mandated in Maine that sexual education must be medically accurate, California and Louisiana are the only two states that forbid the use of religion in public sex ed classes. It is clear that the curriculum taught is not universally the same throughout the state, and that rural areas are getting away with little to no sexual education.

Implementing uniform curriculum across the state, banning the use of religion in sexual education courses, and proper training educators is the best way to ensure that all students are receiving the same education.

 

Elizabeth Gillen 

Orono


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