This guest post comes from the Planned Parenthood Arizona Education Team’s Casey Scott-Mitchell, who serves as the community education & training coordinator at Planned Parenthood Arizona.
Is sex education part of your school day? If you are getting information in your classroom about birth control, consent, healthy relationships, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), then you are among a small number of students in Arizona who get this essential health information.
In the state of Arizona, sex education is not currently required — which means it is up to your school district to decide if they want you to have sex education in the classroom. Unfortunately, most school districts have chosen not to provide sex ed to their students.
Arizona doesn’t require sex education in the classroom.
Beyond that, there are a couple of other laws that have affected how sex ed is taught even if your school district decides to provide sex education in the classroom:
- We are an “opt-in” state — meaning that a parent or guardian must sign a permission slip for you to participate in a sex education class at school.
- We had what are referred to as “No Promo Homo” laws on the books until April of this year — meaning that teachers could not represent being gay in a positive light, and they could not discuss methods of safe sex for “gay sex.”
- Comprehensive sex education is not required — meaning that if a district chooses to provide “abstinence-only” sex education (programs that only promote refraining from sexual activity as a method of safe sex and do not review topics like birth control, condoms, etc.) they are allowed to do so.
We all have different values around sex and sexuality. The reality, however, is that when young people are given fact-based and age-appropriate information around these topics, they are more likely to delay sexual activity — and when they are sexually active, they are more likely to protect themselves against STDs and unintended pregnancies.
No matter what your beliefs are about sex, the reality is that most humans will have sex at some point in their lives and we need the knowledge and skills to make healthy choices. Our state legislators have been working to change some of these problematic laws — specifically repealing “No Promo Homo” — to ensure that students get quality sex education that is inclusive. However, laws often take time to go into effect. In the meantime, if you aren’t receiving sex ed in your school or the sex education you are getting is incomplete or not inclusive of your identity, there are other resources out there for you!
Aside from working with legislators and school districts to advocate for better sex education, Planned Parenthood Arizona (PPAZ) has an education team that offers lots of sex education resources for young people and the adults who support them. PPAZ has educational workshops and other events throughout the year to help people in our communities gain the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy choices around sexuality. Keep an eye out for more details about all of our programs on our PPAZ Facebook page!
There are also many online and digital resources that can help you get the information you need around sexuality — and our PPAZ website is one of those resources! This is a great place to start as we have a collection of really helpful online sexual health resources such as Scarleteen.com or Amaze.org — just to name a few.