Both Democrat and Republican voters strongly support sex education in schools, according to a new national Rutgers study.
The study, which surveyed approximately 1,000 U.S. residents that were selected to represent the nation, all agreed that sex education was “very important” in high schools and middle schools. Only 1.5% of respondents said sex education was not important.
“Sex education remains a vital component to reducing unintended teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among young people as well as providing young people with the information and skills they need to build healthy relationships,” said Leslie Kantor, chair of the Department of Urban-Global Public Health at Rutgers School of Public Health. “Recent attempts by the government to shift funding away from evidence-based pregnancy prevention programs and back to abstinence-only-until-marriage-approaches are out of alignment with what likely voters want.”
Both groups prioritized sex education in high school over middle school. They also agreed that the topics of puberty, healthy relationships, abstinence, birth control and STDs including HIV and consent should be taught on both levels. They differed, though, on the topic of sexual orientation, with 48% of Republicans saying it should be taught compared to 83.8% of Democrats.
The Parties also disagreed on abstinence, with more Republicans vouching for the topic to be taught in high school than Democrats, according to the study. Democrats preferred focusing on birth control methods, healthy relationships and sexual orientation.
A large majority of respondents, 84.4%, encouraged teens to delay sex until they were ready for the “possible consequences of sex,” according to the study.
Yet the study was not without limitations. Researchers admitted that they did not know the depth of content that respondents wanted, only the fact that it should be included, according to the study.
“For example, including birth control in sex education could be as simple as mentioning the existence of methods of pregnancy prevention,” according to the study. “It could also include opportunities for young people to role play talking about birth control with potential sexual partners or learning about where to go to obtain birth control. However, the measures used here only tell us that respondents believed the topic should be included.”
Democrats and Republicans also agreed that government programs should emphasize postponing sex among teens and informing teens on birth control and sexually transmitted infection protection, according to the study.
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