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Making the Grade: How Should Nevada Teach Sex Ed?
Making the Grade: How Should Nevada Teach Sex Ed?

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AIR DATE: March 22, 2013

Assemblyman David Bobzian says that the lack of cohesive sex education in Nevada – wide variances among schools over what is taught and when – was “frankly, keeping me up at night.” 

He’s introduced Bill 230 which would allow for what he describes as medically accurate, age-appropriate sex ed requirements that would be the same for each Nevada school district.

“Young people have a lot of the same problems, and a lot of the same challenges, and a lot of the same questions, whether they live in Elko or Las Vegas,” says Bobzian.

The bill proposes coursework on the reproductive system and protection from sexually-transmitted disease, among other topics, but also includes language on less physiologically-based instruction, such as “participation in and exploitation from the electronic transmission of sexually explicit images.”

“Not providing the information that kids need to make the appropriate decisions was definitely a problem for this state,” says Bobzian.

How big a problem? A recently-released study shows that Nevada ranks 4th nationwide for teen pregnancy rates.  

Opponents to the bill say that sex education is a topic better handled by parents.

“Maybe we should be teaching our parents how to teach our children,” says pro-life activist Pam Caylor.

But Planned Parenthood’s Annette Magnus says that in-home sex education rarely happens.

“I was just here on the College of Southern Nevada campus last night, talking to a women’s studies class,” says Magnus. “I asked them – it was a group of about 35 students – and I asked them ‘how many of you were actually talked to by your parents about sex?’ Two people raised their hands. That’s the reality we’re being faced with.”

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    COMMENTS:
    I am especially glad that the bill would require a "comprehensive and holistic" approach to sex ed, that is affirming and inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students. It is a tremendous disservice that our curriculum pretends that these young people don't exist, or that shames them from being sexually happy and responsible. I commend Planned Parenthood for its work on this issue. Nevada is in dire need of an update of its more than 2 decade old sex education statute. It's silly that as Nevadans we know there are many challenges facing our state--such as having the 4th highest teen pregnancy rate--but we don't take the necessary steps to make us better. Well here is a powerful opportunity to do just that, and help our young people be happier and healthier.
    Nathaniel PhillippsMar 22, 2013 15:04:21 PM
    There is wrong information being quoted about the sex-ed for 82% of Nevada's students. (Clark and Washoe Counties) The sex-ed is updated twice, sometimes three times a year. It is not outdated. Go and read the curriculum overviews. The only thing not being taught in the new proposed sex-ed bill is "unlimited" teaching and "human trafficking". Human Trafficking is better placed in the Social Studies subject matter. And there is a proposal to have a 7th grade Human Trafficking special course taught in Clark County. If anyone takes the time to research the other 15 counties sex-education curriculum, please post and let us know what you discover. It would be interesting to see if they are up to speed with Washoe and Clark Counties. I was pleasantly surprised to find out how well done the sex-ed is in the two larger counties. Research it for yourself, do not let the opinions of others be your own....
    Heidi WixomApr 18, 2013 17:19:49 PM
    As a mother of a young child, I am in favor of comprehensive sex education in the schools. We need standardized curriculum that offers medically accurate, age-appropriate information. This helps our kids be better prepared for the world. And it helps teachers by providing them the exact curriculum and tools to teach sex ed. There is always an option for parents to opt their kids out, but why should that hurt the rest of our kids and our community? Quality sex ed is a public health issue.
    Emmily BristolMar 22, 2013 12:20:18 PM
    I'm the mother of a pre-teen girl. I've taught her what I think is age appropriate information, but I'm sure I don't know everything she should know these days. I don't understand why sex education taught in schools is a problem. Education gives people the foundation to make decisions. Not teaching children important real-life information stunts their ability to make decisions. (sex ed info will be used more often than algebra!) Her friends have asked her questions - shouldn't those answers come from a person with knowledge who can explain not only their questions, but the important information surrounding that question?
    VeniciaCMar 20, 2013 06:39:44 AM
    There seems to be a lot of debate about whether sex education should be taught at school or at home. I don't think it needs to be an either/or situation. Our kids can and should have both. After all, they are taught math, science and language at school but teachers still need parents to reinforce those principals at home. Parents don't want the schools to be solely responsible for teaching our children values around sexuality but what would be great is if kids take what they learn in school and come home and continue the dialogue with their parents. I also think that comprehensive sex ed in school will open the door to students having better conversations with their peers around safe sex - after all, most young people are influenced by their friends as much as their parents. Comprehensive sex ed has been proven to help in delaying the initiation of sex and reducing risky behaviors. As a parent and a former teen mom, I want my kids to be armed with as much information as they can get to help them make good decisions and succeed in life.
    D. JohnsonMar 19, 2013 11:48:46 AM
    As someone who works with young juveniles in the criminal justice system, I am appalled at any opposition to this bill whatsoever. WAKE UP people; teen pregnancy is only a small percentage of the issues we face in our community that can be prevented by a comprehensive sexual education program in our state. Talking to young people about keeping their bodies safe tackles the alarming problem of the growing amount of young sexual offenders, rape culture, clear communication skills in relationships, and even drug and alcohol use. When people learn IN SCHOOLS by medically accurate and age appropriate education about RESPECT for yourself and others, it well help reduce teen pregnancy rates, but also empower and inspire our children to feel safe, worthy of healthy relationships, and how to feel good about themselves and the informed decisions they make about their futures. Comprehensive Sex Ed done right is the magic pill to help us prevent bullying, stop the objectification and sexualization of young girls (and boys), and put an end to things like "juvenile sex offenders" and "teen prostitution."
    S. MoasMar 18, 2013 23:37:50 PM
    I experience first-hand daily how essential and important implementing comprehensive sex education in schools is. As an educator I am faced with many instances where my students are learning for the first time what a condom looks like, how their parts work and how to effectively say "no" in risky situations. In comprehensive sex education abstinence is taught as being the 100% effective way of preventing a pregnancy and contracting an STD. It also gives youth many other tools that they need in this ever changing society today. We need to open our eyes and our minds to what is real. Whether we like it or not our youth will have sex or come to a situation where sex may happen. They need to have the tools and knowledge on how to make healthy decisions. We can't keep relying on parents to educate them at home because its just not happening. I hear the craziest things coming from my students mouths. For example, "My mom told me vaginas have teeth." The lack of knowledge is ignorant and shows in the statistics. When I teach reproductive anatomy more than half of my class have no idea what the uterus is nor it's function. We need this bill to pass. I fully support it.
    KaraMar 18, 2013 19:29:40 PM
    Nevada is more than ready for comprehensive Sex Ed. As a former Clark County student, I know what I was taught and what I had to learn on my own. I was lucky enough to have a parent willing to talk, but not every young person has that. This Sex Ed is medically accurate, making sure Nevada's kids know their own bodies and the proper names for things. This Sex Ed bill is age-appropriate, meaning it starts off with good touch/bad touch with younger children and grows into refusal skills, healthy relationships, and does teach about safe sex, but also about other ways to show intimacy. Abstinence is the only 100% way to stay safe from STIs and unwanted pregnancies. This Sex Ed bill is finally comprehensive! Everyone will be taught. Preaching abstinence until marriage to young people who cannot legally get married here is detrimental to them. They will finally be included in the conversation. Real Sex Ed saves lives and Nevada is beyond ready. I would say Nevada needs age-appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive Sex Ed. Our youth need knowledge.
    MackenzieMar 18, 2013 14:24:43 PM
    Sex education is about knowledge, health, and safety. Our community needs to protect and educate our students. We need to give them real information about personal health and personal responsibility. Pretending we are not sexual or like teens are not interested in sexual information is an antiquated, unsafe, and dangerous position. Nothing about sex education takes away any person's right to remain abstinent. Nothing about sex education makes students MORE likely to participate in sexual sctivities. Sex education does not force anyone to do anything; it provides factual information about the physical body and reproduction. As a school teacher, I'm interested in giving students the things they need to make healthy, safe, and productive life choices. Sex education can only help our youth and their families. Nevada needs to join other states who provide their students and families with real reproductive information in a timely manner.
    AngieMar 18, 2013 14:17:23 PM
    It's time that we have comprehensive sex ed in schools. Students need to learn how to practice safe sex (which includes the proper use of condoms and lubricants) habits in order to reduce the risk of getting HIV/STD's. There's an alarming rate of new people becoming infected by HIV and if we want to be serious about reducing these rates then it's time we get this bill passed!
    ChristopherMar 18, 2013 13:59:18 PM
    As the parent of a child in the Clark County School Disrict, I know comprehensive sex education in our schools is a necessity. It is clear the current sex education policy (or lack thereof) is not working. NV has the fourth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. Teen mothers are less likely to graduate high school and less likely to go on to college than their childless peers. The majority of teen mothers become dependent on government programs within three years of having a child. They are more likely to stay dependent on these programs and on average will earn three times less in income over the course of their lifetime than those who delayed childbirth. The children of teen mothers are more likely to have become parents as teens themselves and will continue the cycle of poverty. Several studies confirm that abstinence only education does not delay first time intercourse or reduce the teen pregnancy rate. However numerous studies prove medically accurate, age-appropriate, comprehensive sex educate accomplishes both of these things. I want my daughter to have the education she needs to make healthy choices that last her a lifetime.
    Sara LemmaMar 18, 2013 12:46:36 PM
    Anyone who claims to be pro-life would support comprehensive, age appropriate sex education. Young men and women need to be given the tools and information to live healthy lives and participate in healthy relationships to they can (should they chose) have healthy babies.
    LauraMar 18, 2013 11:56:28 AM
    As a mom and as a former sexual and reproductive health educator, I have seen firsthand the importance and necessity of comprehensive sex ed. My personal willingness to speak openly with my son about sexual health resulted in our having an open communication about all topics, from the time he was a toddler and continuing now in his adulthood. As an educator, I was at first surprised by the lack of basic anatomical knowledge on the part of my students, who knew a lot about sex from the Internet but very little about sexual health and healthy relationships until experiencing our sex ed classes. I was heartened by their honesty and desire to learn medically accurate information and to understand that there are adults who will listen to them and talk with them about reality, not just in sex but in navigating relationships. Assemblyman Bobzien's bill has my support!
    Caren BedsworthMar 18, 2013 11:42:16 AM
    Who are you kidding? Many parents do not have info themselves OR the nerve or desire to share it with their kids! A person can only have a healthy sex life if they receive good, real information in a non-judgemental way. Even a teacher needs training and the desire to teach it. You can't ask a random math teacher to do it!!!
    Sandra EddyMar 18, 2013 11:34:57 AM
    I have teenagers in our local community. Abstinence only stops responsible adults from sharing medically accurate appropriate information with students. With the internet there are ads that target our kids for products that advertise sex without "protection" and you won't get HIV. You can still get pregnant and the only way to prevent HIV is with a condom. (I would tell you the product but I don't want to get banned as too crude.) I was told that no member of the CCSD staff can discuss the dangers of this product which I think should be a note home at least to parents due to the abstinence only education law. My son attends high school in an affluent NW corner of the city. The teenage pregnancy rate exceeds that of the inner city high school I attended. I went to a high school with a teen health clinic on the premises a very far cry from the reality all kids regardless of economic background have in Las Vegas. I hope that in our community that we can offer a safe sex summit for our students. I hear a lot of concerns from parents of newly out LGBTQ students how to communicate safety, self esteem, and safe relationships.
    Christine Kramar Mar 18, 2013 11:14:21 AM
    As a Las Vegas native and someone who worked with community members (including students) throughout the state of Nevada for a number of years, I am very proud to support the comprehensive sex ed bill that Assemblyman David Bobzien is proposing. Young people have the right to lead healthy lives and it is society's responsibility to ensure all young people have the resources and opportunities to do so. Providing comprehensive sex education is a key part in this. Again, this bill is not an Anti-Abstinence bill and, in fact, it INCLUDES both abstinence AND contraception (I know because I've actually read it!). Let's respect our young people and their ability to act in their own best interest here, let's provide them with resources, tools, and education to make responsible decisions. Maybe then, we'll actually see teen pregnancy and STI rates fall in NV. Again, I grew up in Nevada, and now work in Washington, DC, on these issues specifically at a national reproductive health organization. My passion is in sex education, partly because my sexual health education in Nevada did NOT incorporate a comprehensive approach Diana Thu-Thu Rhodes, State Strategies Manager, Advocates for Youth
    Diana RhodesMar 18, 2013 11:10:53 AM
    Sex Ed is extremely important. My sex ed class was a 50 something-male teacher putting on a video of a woman crowning then he said, "this is what sex leads to, don't have sex until you are ready for this" this was in 2005, he split the girls and boys into separate sides of the room. Abstinence only would be ideal to most parents. But please remember Abstinence is not what is happening and kids are ending up with diseases that could have been avoided and pregnancies that might change those CHILDRENs lives. We can't continue to teach what we wish kids would do, we have to teach what they ARE doing and how to make it safe. Kids are not dumb, they will listen, they just want to know about sex and most will make the decision to wait once they know the outcome. For those that don't, they will at least know how to avoid things that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
    AstridMar 18, 2013 11:01:33 AM
    Human reproduction and overall sexual health is an important part of life which children need to be educated about. Study after study has proven that comprehensive sex education pays big dividends with lower rates in teen pregnancy, high school drop outs, sexually transmitted diseases, and single parenthood. Fully in support of comprehensive sex education in our public schools.
    Marla TurnerMar 18, 2013 10:48:29 AM
    Check out 'Pam Stenzel' - an abstinence only educator who shares with students all over the world the candid effects of STD's. This is how our schools should approach Sex education. You can find some of her material on Youtube also.
    ShawnaKirschMar 18, 2013 10:16:57 AM
    I believe in educating our students. However, how we do it is huge. Abstinence education must remain at the top. I would absolutely not be in favor of using Planned Parenthood resources. Planned Parenthood is for profit. They make money off our young people. I understand they provide some great services, but if your child ends up pregnant, they will offer them up for abortion. My question to Planned parenthood is: Will you share with them 100% the risks and details of the procedure? If you want 'comprehensive' sex ed, I expect the same candid disclosure. Abstinence saves lives & hearts.
    Shawna KiischMar 18, 2013 10:12:15 AM
    The panel this morning was discussing a law that would implement comprehensive sex education. Although there was a Planned Parenthood representative on the panel, the comprehensive sex ed bill has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood. Abstinence saves lives, and so do condoms and knowledge about how to engage in sexual activity safely when you choose to do so. Luckily, comprehensive sex education programs like the one outlined in AB 230 covers all of these topics.
    Courtney KelsenMar 18, 2013 10:36:24 AM
    If abstinence worked, there would be no need for this discussion evaluating the merits of comprehensive sex education.
    Marla TurnerMar 18, 2013 10:49:56 AM
    Comprehensive sex education has been shown time and again to delay the onset of sexual activity and make those that do engage in those activities safer. http://bit.ly/115RBdI, http://bit.ly/115S1ki. I can understand your opinion that abstinence is the best route to go, but not everyone shares your beliefs and it behooves us to provide medically accurate information and arm students with the information and resources to keep themselves safe, and let the families dictate their own preferences and morals at home.
    Olivia Gobert-HicksMar 18, 2013 11:14:24 AM
    Abstinence will be taught as the one 100% way to stay safe. This curriculum would teach abstinence, but also prepare our children for the real world. This will lower our teen pregnancy rates and teen dropout rates.
    MackenzieMar 18, 2013 14:26:53 PM
    I agree that abstinence should be the ultimate focus of sex education because the truth is, if your child does become pregnant, whatever decision they make, whether it is abortion, adoption or raising the child - it's not going to be easy. There are huge risks involved with all of those decisions. What we do know for certain 100%, is that whatever choice they make will affect the rest of their lives. Let's face it, these kids are already out there having sex, what they need is information to make smarter decisions for themselves. As far as Planned Parenthood, I'm not sure that the only thing they offer is abortion. I wasn't that familiar with them before but I recently talked to someone and found out they are not really all about abortion like some people think. The organization (which is non-profit by the way) actually does a lot of work in the community in terms of outreach and education. Their focus is actually on PREVENTION so that abortions will not be necessary. They are actually doing a lot of good work. My suggestion is to do your own research, find out for yourself instead of just believing what you hear.
    Dawn ChanMar 19, 2013 11:24:31 AM
    Young people need honest, accurate information to make healthier choices. It's time to give them the education they deserve. We have the 4th highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. Comprehensive sex education has been shown to reduce teen pregnancy rates all over the country. It's time.
    Laura DeitschMar 18, 2013 09:31:15 AM
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