Everyone deserves access to sex education that is scientifically accurate, LGBTQ+ inclusive, consent-centered, culturally responsive, and shame free. Comprehensive sex education is proven to improve health, relationships, and decision-making. In fact, sex education saves lives.
So how do we make comprehensive sex education a reality for everyone? We start by talking about it with our friends and family. By starting conversations about sex ed, we can make others aware of the current gaps in sex ed standards, talk about the benefits of sex ed, and empower others to take action. Talking about this issue also helps end the stigma and shame surrounding it.
Discussing sensitive subjects such as sex can sometimes be a bit awkward to navigate, so how can you make it easier to talk to your friends and family about comprehensive sex education? We are here to help! Here are some tips to make your conversations comfortable and successful.
1. Create a Plan:
Brainstorm possible scenarios where you could speak to a friend about comprehensive sex education. Perhaps you are going out to lunch next Friday or meeting up for a workout class later that week. Sex education does not need to be the reason you get together, but planning to talk about it when you meet up can get you in the right mindset to start the conversation.
If you’re planning on talking with family, ask yourself if you’d rather speak as a whole family about comprehensive sex ed, or just talk with one or a few members. This can change the environment you may want to create for the conversation to be more comfortable.
2. Envision the Conversation:
Take a moment to think through everything that you know about sex education in South Dakota and what comprehensive sex education is. Currently, sex education is not mandated in South Dakota, however all schools are required to teach students about abstinence.1 This means that school districts are left to decide what type of sex education—if any—to provide to youth. South Dakota schools are not required to teach youth about consent, sexuality, or gender identity. And the lack of comprehensive sex education in South Dakota’s schools can further stigmatize marginalized youth, including students of color and LGBTQ+ youth.
Why do YOU care about this issue? Why should someone else? What points do you feel are more compelling to you, and will be to your friend or family member? It can be easier to speak to other people when you sort through your own thoughts and then formulate some ideas of how you want to express them.
3. Make it Personal:
Most likely there is a reason comprehensive sex education is important to you, perhaps you even have a story of how it has impacted you. Opening up and explaining its significance in your life can help others feel more connected to and passionate about this issue. If there was a specific time you can remember in your education when sex ed felt insufficient, this may also help. Try discussing how comprehensive sex ed could benefit both your life and theirs to help show how deeply and long-lasting this issue can affect people.
4. What can they do:
Once you share your thoughts and experiences on comprehensive sex ed and have a discussion with your friend or family member, leave them with something that they can think about and act on. If you sparked inspiration in them it can be great to help show them how they can be involved to keep them motivated.
- Encourage them to sign up to stay connected with Planned Parenthood.
- If they are new to advocating, offer to join them or ask for their support in your efforts.
5. Important Takeaways:
Don’t be discouraged if the first conversation doesn’t go as planned! Hopefully, you were able to learn, and will be even more prepared for your next conversation. Remain calm and positive, these emotions may rub off on your friend or family member.
The entire conversation regarding comprehensive sex education doesn’t need to happen in one breath either. Starting with a simple talk about their high school experience, may lead to a smoother connection to sex education, followed by the overall idea of comprehensive sex education.
Remember to reflect on the conversation, how it went, what you liked and disliked about it, and how you can take what you’ve learned to improve the next conversation. Last but not least, be proud of yourself for starting the conversation and putting yourself out there!
6. If you need more help:
Deciding you want to have more serious talks with friends and family about comprehensive sex education is a first great step. If the time comes and you get stuck, you can always refer to the Planned Parenthood website. Getting accurate answers is the most important.