At some point in life, we all have to have that awkward conversation about the birds and the bees.
Many American children are introduced to this topic at school. But in a startlingly high fraction of the US, sex education is not being taught well, or even at all, as comedy host John Oliver pointed out in his show Last Week Tonight on August 10.
Here are some of the mind-blowing things Oliver points out that are wrong with America’s sex education:
- Only 22 states require that sex ed be taught in their schools, and just 13 of these specify that the instruction be medically accurate.
- In Mississippi, a state with the second-highest teen pregnancy rate ( 76 pregnancies per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 ) , teachers are forbidden from demonstrating how to use a condom.
- Lots of schools fail to address the needs of gay students. (A recent survey found that only 48% of schools addressed sexual identity and sexual orientation.)
- Many states now advocate for abstinence-only, and Congress recently increased its funding of abstinence education from $US50 million to $US75 million per year.
In the show, Oliver claims that sex ed should be held to the same standard as any other discipline. “You wouldn’t accept a history class not being historically accurate,” he says. “Prince started the American Revolution in 1984, and his purple reign lasts until the present day. Class dismissed.”
As for Mississippi’s law about condom demonstrations, Oliver jokes: “That means no condom on a banana, no condom on a cucumber, no condom on a zucchini. And that’s terrible, partly because it’s fun putting condoms on produce.”
Luckily, some teachers have found creative ways to get around this requirement. The segment includes a video of one former teacher demonstrating how to use a condom by putting a sock on his foot. “You want to take your sock, and you want to roll it all the way down your foot,” the man says, “and then you can put it inside your shoe.”
Utah’s law prevents any teaching of the “intricacies of intercourse.” According to one state senator, those things should be taught at home. “Here is an exchange that has never happened: How are you so good at sex? I was homeschooled,” Oliver quips.
And some of the educational videos schools use are pretty terrible. One video actually compares a woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night to a pair of used sneakers. And this type of sex-shaming can be even more harmful for victims of sexual assault, Oliver says.
Oliver even created his own sex-ed film, starring actor Laverne Cox, comedian Jack McBrayer and actor Kristen Schaal, to clear up any confusion.
Watch the full segment here:
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