Despite the fact that two-thirds of Americans, both Republican and Democrat, believe that students should receive information pertaining to birth control while in school, most US states do not mandate sex education.
A poll conducted by the Huffington Post in partnership with YouGov discovered that the majority of Americans, 66%, believe that high school sex education classes should include information pertaining to contraception, not just abstinence. The poll, conducted in late December and early January, was completed by 1,000 adults across the country.
Of the participants, 22% who consider themselves to be Republican believe that students should only be taught abstinence in comparison to 9% who reference themselves as Democrats. However, 59% of Republicans reported a belief that students should be taught other methods of birth control, reports Rebecca Klein for The Huffington Post.
In addition, white participants were slightly more likely than minorities to stand in support of birth control-related sex education classes. Participants with children under the age of 18 were twice as likely to feel that sex education courses should only include abstinence.
The survey also discovered that 66% of respondents felt that a sex education class that included multiple methods of birth control was more effective at reducing the rate of teenage pregnancies rather than courses based on abstinence. This line of thought was especially true for those who labeled themselves as agnostic or atheist. While 0% of that group believed a class focused on abstinence would reduce teen pregnancies, 24% of Protestants and 19% of Catholics felt the same way.
Despite the feelings of survey respondents, many state requirements pertaining to sex education classes to do not appear to agree. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research organization that focuses on reproductive health, more than 50% of US states do not require any sort of sex education classes to be taught in schools. The organization also found that many of the states that do provide sex education place their focus on abstinence, not on other methods of contraception.
Most of the respondents to the YouGov poll agreed that sex education should begin at age 12. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2012 over 70% of middle schools taught abstinence to students as being the most effective method of birth control and avoiding sexually transmitted diseases.
In addition, many YouGov respondents felt that parents should have the final say in what type of education their child receives. As of January 1, school districts in 37 states are required to include parents in sex education, and 35 states give parents the option to take their children out of such courses.