TRENTON, NJ - May marks Sex Ed for All Month. Sex education plays a critical role in our communities’ sexual and reproductive health, and we need strong policies that support access to high-quality sex education. This month, we highlight the fact that all young people, no matter who they are or where they live, deserve the education and care they need to make informed decisions about relationships, sex, identity and their bodies. Planned Parenthood is a national leader in sex education, and here in New Jersey, the two Planned Parenthood affiliates see about 31,200 participants each year for education programming and community outreach.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey and coalition partners from across the state recently released New Jersey’s Sex Ed Report Card. The report card reflected the responses from a survey completed by teachers, parents, and young people on what is needed to improve sex education in New Jersey. For example, the report card showed that sex education is not provided in a consistent manner from district to district, school to school, or even teacher to teacher. Other findings included:
In comparison to other states, New Jersey has strong sex education policy on the books. But some areas of the law are troubling, such as the requirement to stress abstinence and highlight failure rates of contraceptives. Stressing abstinence can still shame young people and be ineffective at preventing risk behaviors, and highlighting contraceptive failure rates is a scare tactic used to further stigmatize and create confusion, instead of providing accurate information.
Parents overwhelmingly support sex education and want more involvement in their children’s sex education at school.
Teachers want more training, guidance, and resources to teach effective sex ed.
Some recommendations made in the report card include:
Remove the requirement in state statute that sex education programs and curricula must stress abstinence, in order to avoid stigmatizing and shaming young people and prevent them from having the information they need to make healthy decisions.
Allow for more classroom hours on a regular basis dedicated to teaching sex education.
Increase financial resources for sex education teacher training and professional development.
Collaborate with parents and partner to advocate for increased funding and resources for sex education programming.
Finally, these recommendations call upon statewide legislators and decision makers to provide policy on sex education that is even stronger than what we currently have, and support educators by providing resources, recommended curricula, and methods to assess the content being delivered in classrooms.
Already, the recommendations from the report card have been put to use. This spring, the New Jersey Department of Education released proposed revised standards for sex education in New Jersey schools. Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey and coalition partners from across the state submitted feedback on these proposed revisions, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Education and the state Board of Education to ensure that our young people benefit from the strongest possible sex education programs.
Throughout Sex Ed for All Month, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey is hosting a series of free webinars for all community members focusing on sex education and health care access. These upcoming webinars will proactively engage community members as they learn more about the importance of sex education in schools. Webinar topics include:
Do you have questions about safer sex but don’t know where to go when most sex education is directed towards young adults? Curious about learning more about safe sex as we go? Join us as we discuss sex education for folks 50 and up!
Do you think you know everything about birth control – or want to learn more? Do you just love playing bingo? Join our wonderful educators as we play an exciting virtual game of Birth Control Bingo, where you will learn all about the different contraceptive methods that exist today!
Do you have questions about safer sex? Think you could brush up on your knowledge? Just curious to learn more about the reproductive and sexual health services offered? Join us as we talk all things sex education!
Everyday life provides lots of opportunities for talking to your kids about sex and healthy relationships. Join this virtual program to learn how to use media such as popular TV shows to make it easier to have those important conversations with your kids.
Young people deserve to have the information, resources, and skills they need to protect their health and build their future – without shame or judgement. Sex education is education. It gives young people developmentally appropriate, medically accurate information and provides answers to their questions about sex and relationships, without shaming or judging them for their experiences or feelings.
Sex education is about more than preventing unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. From government at local, state, and federal levels, young people need sex educations policies and funding that provide access to the full range of topics and skills they need to navigate sex and relationships. Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey will continue to focus on advocating for sexual education online as we navigate these uncertain times.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey (PPAFNJ) is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) non-profit social welfare organization, and the advocacy arm of the Planned Parenthood Affiliates in New Jersey. We advocate for access to essential health care through education, activism, voter engagement, grassroots organizing and legislative advocacy. For more information, visit www.ppactionnj.org.