The Michigan Times
What happens if I forget to take my birth control? What if the condom breaks? What if I take every precaution and still manage to get pregnant?
Unwanted pregnancy can be an uncomfortable topic of conversation, but one everyone should have if sexually active. As an outspoken person, I have found myself talking about this quite often with friends–usually those of the opposite sex.
With every talk, they usually always say the same thing: “Just go to Planned Parenthood and get an abortion,” as if it’s as simple and painless as taking my one-a-day multivitamins.
Their responses make it obvious to me that there is some misunderstanding swirling around what Planned Parenthood is and the services it provides. This organization, as well as abortion and sex education, are some of the topics surrounding women’s health that young men need to be better educated about.
According to a 2018 press release, Planned Parenthood provided over 4.4 million tests and treatments for STDs, including more than 700,000 HIV tests in 2017. Beyond this, they also provide birth control, emergency contraceptives, general health care, other HIV services, LGBT services (including hormone therapy), men’s health services (routine check-ups, sexual dysfunction, etc.), patient education, pregnancy services and more.
There is so much more to Planned Parenthood than meets the eye–or headline. Because of the little to no education provided to young men (or anyone, for that matter), or even growing up in a household against Planned Parenthood, it’s not always their fault they may be misinformed about the usefulness and extent of its services.
To address this issue and many more, Planned Parenthood started “Get Real,” a three-year middle school curriculum that promotes abstinence, provides an understanding of sexual health, discusses protection methods and encourages dialogue between students and the caring adults in their lives about sexual health topics.
In order to educate more young men, it’s important to start while they’re young. Most elementary and middle schools have a Sex Ed program where the “Get Real” curriculum could be a beneficial addition.
From my experience, Sex Ed has become out of touch with society and doesn’t really expand on the most important issues associated with sex. And while I do believe that education about these topics should start while we’re young, I also believe a required, more in-depth version of sex education is crucial for high school students.
According to a 2017 Planned Parenthood press release, more than half of U.S. teenagers have had sex by the age of 18–an age typically spent in high school or soon after graduating.
These are some of the people that would benefit most from having a better understanding of the topics at hand. They’re the ones facing these possibilities, after all–and I don’t know about you, my high school years were filled more with irrational decisions than informed ones.
Sex Ed touched on the most common STDs, a video of a woman giving birth and what to do when getting your period. To be even more specific, from what I can remember, there was no talk about abortions, how to treat or take care of specific STDs and no segment on giving consent in a sexual situation.
This kind of outdated Sex Ed can feel like a scare tactic rather than an informative program. Instead of shoving only abstinence down kids’ throats, which, from what I can remember, happened in my particular class experience, Sex Ed should serve as a place for young men and women to get useful information about their bodies.
Rather, people my age are just now learning about these topics through congressional committee hearings and scathing headlines in newspapers.
Although the number is increasing for male participants at Planned Parenthood, they only make up 12% of their patients. With a number that low, proper education for young men is a necessity when it comes to teaching them about the services Planned Parenthood provides.
Without implementing a discussion on Planned Parenthood into the Sex Ed curriculum, children will grow into adults remaining uneducated about the many options available–as well as the risks. Especially when it comes to defending funds for Planned Parenthood, young men need to be aware that it is also there for them, not just abortions.