Stricter state laws are chipping away at sex education in K-12 schools
A dozen state or county agencies have parted ways with tens of thousands of dollars in federal grants meant to help monitor teenagers’ sexual behaviors and try to lower rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
The withdrawals reflect a shift in many states that is further complicating and polarizing sex education in K-12 schools as some Republican-led legislatures more strictly regulate when and what students learn about their bodies.
The new laws are part of a broad push to fortify “ parents’ rights ” and strike LGBTQ+ content from the classroom, core themes that have flooded the campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.
Experts are concerned students won’t reliably learn about adolescence, safe sexual activity or relationship violence, topics they say are especially important since sexually transmitted diseases rose after the pandemic and access to abortion is increasingly restricted.
Anne-Marie Amies Oelschlager, a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said a trained, trusted adult is critical for young people to get good information versus other, less trustworthy sources like social media.