[Editorial] Let’s Talk About Sex
by The Milton Measure on Friday, February 7th, 2014
Every year, as the second semester begins, the Students Educating the Community about Sexuality (SECS) program begins their courses on Human Sexuality and Relationships (HS&R). SECS offers weekly classes to sophomores, juniors, and seniors that inform students about a broad range of topics, from anatomy to safe sex. Led by two Class I SECS leaders and two faculty advisors, each class is a fun way to tackle issues that arise in the lives of many high school students. The HS&R curriculum is important and effective, but it is inconvenient and leaves many students uninformed on sexual topics.
In the SECS Wednesday assembly, Lisa Morin explained that Milton Academy, as an institution, does not promote sexual activity, but the community understands that teenagers will engage in sexual activity regardless. Although Milton does attempt to address some of these issues in Class IV Health classes, they do not provide students with a deep enough understanding of these topics. Therefore, a group of students saw the need to start the program in 1978 to address relationship issues that are pertinent, yet ignored in most high schools.
In the hotly debated topic of sexual education, Milton Academy has taken by no means a groundbreaking stance, but it has still taken a progressive stance, founded on the principles of educated decision-making. The values taught in HS&R are sound, and the course provides the resources that will teach life lessons, regardless of whether or not one chooses to partake in sexual activity during high school.
The lessons taught in HS&R are necessary and informative, yet the whole community does not have access to this information. First off, the classes are optional. While many sign up for HS&R classes, nearly one half of sophomores opted out of Beginner HS&R this year, and all but 35 juniors chose not to do Advanced HS&R. Who can blame them? The bustle of everyday life here at Milton keeps many students from spending one and a half hours taking another class, when they could be doing homework or honing their chops in a practice room. Although HS&R has a completely different atmosphere than traditional Milton classes, it is still a class that demands energy and focus away from homework during study hall hours. In general, students are interested in topics presented in HS&R, but choose not to enroll in the course because it consumes a large chunk of the night that could be spent on work.
Many students also choose not to enroll in HS&R because of the timing of classes— held between 7 and 8:30 at night— is inconvenient. For day students, staying at school this late inherently means having to go out for dinner and having to work until late at night to catch up on work. Also, day students that don’t drive and rely on buses to get home find themselves scrambling to find rides home after HS&R. HS&R falls during the winter study hall hours of 7 to 9 pm, so sophomores struggle finish their homework after HS&R, and juniors miss the majority of the time that the dorms are quiet at night.
Why not make HS&R a part of the Affective Education curriculum? This change would make the already popular class accessible to every student at Milton. Health classes already try to get at this topic, but they don’t achieve the same success of an HS&R class. The more formal teacher-student setup and the age of the freshman fosters a less comfortable and experienced environment that hinders the depth of student understanding.
Diving into sexuality and issues within relationships during Affective Education classes, which would be led in part by SECS leaders, would allow students the necessary resources to lead an informed life in and beyond Milton, regardless of pressure in academic classes or long commutes. The concern that this integration raises, though, is that HS&R will lose its fun, loose atmosphere, which makes many students comfortable talking about potentially awkward topics. Maintaining such an informal setting is critical to the success of the class, and Affective Education teachers and SECS leaders would both have to make an effort to make the classroom a comfortable place.
HS&R was founded in 1978, when the vast majority of sexual education in America preached abstinence only. However, times have changed, and the culture surrounding sexual activity has evolved to make a class like HS&R necessary knowledge for students at Milton. Teach HS&R during school, and educate everyone about to make informed decisions throughout their lives.
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