Utah students are incredibly lucky to have "choice" in their sex education. They can choose to observe what healthy sexual relationships look like through recent cinematic greats, such as "Superbad" and "American Pie," or they can choose to learn from an unrealistic abstinence-only curriculum that currently contains several problematic holes. Unfortunately, nowhere in the public realm do young Utahns have a reasonable, middle-ground option to learn about sexual health.
I am in my senior year at a private high school in Utah and, for me, this time seems to be filled with many bittersweet "lasts" and the potential for many exciting "firsts." Fear of the unknown is a common theme for many of my peers, especially in the area of sex and relationship education. In Utah public schools, abstinence-only is the only approved curriculum for sex education. Crucial information about STDs, pregnancy prevention, teen dating violence, meaningful consent, body image or healthy relationships is currently not included in the state-supported curriculum. Thus students are left to their own devices to educate themselves on such topics with very little guidance as to what is credible and what is not.
"I honestly didn't know anything about birth control [until] I was 16 and went to my OB-GYN," noted a recent graduate of East High School. In her freshman year of high school, she watched her classmate walk out of school with a pregnancy confirmation. "She said she didn't want her mom to know she was having sex, so she didn't get on anything … I can honestly tell you, nothing was taught in high school."