If you recieved comprehensive sex education in high school... you know... where they told you anything worth hearing, then... you were lucky.
I... and millions of other current teen and young adult Americans... are not so lucky.
I was a victim of Abstinence-Only Sex Education. Yes, I said VICTIM. Why? Because not only do these programs teach us absolutely nothing worth knowing... they also can cause significant situational and/ or psychological harm!
As a humanist... I look back appalled at the type of class I was forced (by the state) to take as a requirement for graduation.
I never learned anything but psychological trauma from Abstinenece-only education. I was lucky in one way... my particular class was "light." There are FAR worse types of abstinence only. At least my class didn't prosthelytize finding Jesus to us with public money. (That does happen in some classes!)
What I do remember of my attrocity of a "sex ed" class, well I'm angry! I was lied to, denied crucial information, and taught to be petrified of my sexuality.
As far as contraception goes... well that was covered in one class (sort of). By "covered" I mean the physical education teacher running "health class" passed us a sheet with a chart on it. On the table was a list of different methods of birth control. (Most of them I had never heard of at the time... "What's an IUD?") The table had a column next to it that had a set of percentages. These percentages were supposedly "failure rates" of these methods, most of which I had never heard of ... and those I did.. like condoms... well I didn't know how they worked anyway. I had never even seen a condom. I didn't know what it looked like.
The "teacher" spent the next thirty minutes or so explaining why "contraception is very likely to fail" and "abstinence until marriage is the only way to be sure you won't get pregnant or get an STD."
The percentages were insanely inflated. But I didn't figure this out until several years later.
No one told us anything about what these contraceptives actually were or how to use them. We were just told that they were likely to fail.
But what has made me the most angry is how that class damaged the development of my sexuality... a problem that I'm still dealing with to some degree.
I was taught to be afraid of sex. I know now that they just wanted me to be afraid of "pre-marital" sex... but the end result was that I was afraid of ALL sex. I was terrified of marriage, terrified of pregnancy, terrified of forming romantic attachments.
I was told that sex outside of marriage would ruin my life. That I would inevitably have my heart broken. That no one could ever be truly devoted to you outside of marriage.
But worse... their emphasis on how difficult pregnancy and childbearing would be had me terrified of ever starting a family.
I took a course for my college major called "Psychology of Sexuality." Suddenly I was getting REAL information. For the first time I got information on how to use those contraceptive methods and the textbook broke down human sexuality as a natural thing and explained all the options available.
I'm finally learning not to fear sex. But I am extremely angry at how I was one of the kids betrayed by the bush administration who jammed sex- fear-mongering down our throats at age 14... when we were just waking up to our own sexuality.
I was betrayed... and so were millions of others.
Long story short... I know from first hand experience that abstinence-only sex ed does nothing at all except hurt teenagers.