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Nicholas Williams

English 2010
Prof. Baird.
26 April 2016

Research Paper

Sexual health literacy is definitely something that we, as a society, need to focus on
instilling in our youth as they grow up. Knowledge of sex, and how our bodies work, is integral
knowledge in growing up as a person and living in society. We are faced with situations,
especially at a younger age, where without proper knowledge and caution about activities like
sex, it could turn into events that could affect us for the rest of our lives. Teenaged pregnancy, the
spread of STDs and STIs, and other situations like these arise from the lack of knowledge and
literacy about sexual education. This is a problem especially affecting the Salt Lake City area, as
the high density of the Mormon religion and the more conservative nature of the area leads to a
less informative sexual education programs in most public schools in the area. The problem is
that teenagers in the Salt Lake City who go through public schooling are not receiving the sexual
education that they should be having, which leads to a higher rate of teenaged pregnancies and
the spread of diseases because of this lack of knowledge. The proposed solution would be to
increase the depth of knowledge taught in the classroom, a focus away from abstinence only
education but more on a fully rounded education about everything to do with the subject. This
has to do with the subject of literacy because sexual literacy and sexual health literacy are
definitely things that younger people need to gain. The first thing that we need to look at is the

problem itself. The problem is the way that teenagers and young adults are taught about sex and
their bodies as they are brought up in the public school system in Salt Lake City. A direct quote
from the Utah State Code is as follows, A. The following may not be taught in Utah public
schools through the use of instructional materials, direct instruction, or online instruction: (1) the
intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation or erotic behavior; (2) the advocacy of
homosexuality; (3) the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or
devices; or (4) the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage (Utah Admin Code). This
law not only outright states that it will not show the intricacies of how sex, a natural occurrence
throughout the world, that it will basically shun the existence of homosexuality, but the biggest
thing here is the advocacy or encouragement of contraceptives. Without this knowledge many
teenagers will still preform these acts even if they are not taught in the school systems, the only
thing it means is that teens will not have the knowledge they need to do it safely. This leaves
many teenagers in a state of illiteracy, and many adults who teach this method believe that when
a teenager does not know about it, they wont do it. However, in the current age of modern
technology and access to the internet, teenagers can learn infinitely more than is thought
possible, but a controlled environment in a classroom is needed to make sure they are instilled
with the proper knowledge of how their bodies work and how to stay safe. It is shown through
the rates of teenaged pregnancy and the spread of STDs how this is affecting the youth of this
area. The teen birthrate in Utah is 23.1 births per 1000 females aged 15-19 (HHS Utah). On
top of this, a statistic for one STD, Chlamydia, is on the rise in Utah. The Utah Department of
Health has released some startling statistics showing an increase in sexually transmitted diseases
among Utahns. The data shows that one out of every four Utah teens had chlamydia at some
point during 2012. Lynn Beltran, STD epidemiology supervisor, said chlamydia is the big

problem in the area. As far as STD numbers go here in Salt Lake County, our biggest concern is
with chlamydia, she said. Lynn Minor, manager of the communicable disease prevention
program, said chlamydia isnt the only STD thats been on the rise lately. We've had a 71
percent increase in gonorrhea, and our syphilis rates almost doubled, Minor said (STD Rates
among). Especially with the ever increasing rate of STDs in the area, one can see a correlation
between the below par sexual health program and the rates of STDs with the young adults in the
area. There is a solution, however, for this problem in our area.
When it comes to a solution, we would definitely need to start at a young level. Many
young adults are going through the public school system, and the sooner that we can start
teaching them about proper sexual education at a reasonable age, the sooner we can start raising
a generation that knows how to take care of their bodies. In terms of the Salt Lake City area, this
would have to start by repealing the various laws that forbade these certain teachings in public
schools. Many other states have laws that teach good sexual education to its students, and Utah
needs to follow suit with this. Once these laws are repealed, the next step would be implementing
this into the school systems at a reasonable pace and for students who are ready for the lessons.
This is not meant for lower middle school and elementary school students. Once students have
entered high school, they probably know a bit about this subject already from their everyday
lives. Once they start getting informed, the school should have the responsibility to teach them
how to do these actions safely. This will be a slow process, and take some time with talking to
lawmakers and to individual schools. However, something of this nature is needed so that the
Salt Lake City area can try to crack down on the rising rates of STDs and teenage pregnancy.
There's almost no getting around it. States with abstinence-only education have the highest rates
of teen pregnancies.

In 2008, the Washington Post reported on a University of Washington study which found that
teenagers who received comprehensive sex education were 60% less likely to get pregnant than
someone who received abstinence-only education. A 2007 federal report found
that abstinence-only programs have had "no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence," reported
ThinkProgress.

In a 2011 study published in the journal PLOS One, researchers found a similar correlation
between a state's commitment to abstinence education and pregnancy rates (The States With).
These kinds of statistics have been shown time and time again with multiple studies that the
correlation between abstinence only sex education and the rates of especially teen pregnancy is
very high. This is the kind of solution the needs to be implemented into the school system in this
area.
In terms of how feasible this solution is, while it would be somewhat difficult and take
some time, I believe over time it is feasible. Many things in this day and age have been changed
by people talking to their legislators, protesting for change, and getting it done. Things like gay
marriage, legalized marijuana, and things of this nature have been changed by the will of the
people. What would need to be done would be in this area especially, show the need for a better
sex education curriculum to teachers and parents, and start a discussion about it. Over time, this
would lead to laws being changed and changed for the better for the students in the current
school system. This would be the most difficult part about this solution, and would definitely
take time, but once it is accomplished, it would lead to the implementation of better sex ed
programs in the schools in this area. As shown previously, this increase in sex ed teachings with
a more robust curriculum directly leads to the lowering of teenaged pregnancy in said areas. This
is the ultimate goal of this solution, to give students every possible tool to keep themselves and

others healthy, and not to jump into pregnancy before they are ready for it which would cost
them a lot.
To recap, the problem is that teenagers in the Salt Lake City who go through public
schooling are not receiving the sexual education that they should be having, which leads to a
higher rate of teenaged pregnancies and the spread of diseases because of this lack of knowledge.
The proposed solution would be to increase the depth of knowledge taught in the classroom, a
focus away from abstinence only education but more on a fully rounded education about
everything to do with the subject. The various positive outcomes that would come from this
solution being implemented would be the lowering of teenaged pregnancy and the spread of
STDs. This would also indirectly affect the statistics of things like abortion, which is a very hot
button issue and many people have taken sides on this. However, if we can stop these unwanted
pregnancies before they even happen with proper sexual education, there would not be a need for
as many abortions as there are currently. We have to give all the tools we can to our young adults
in this community to prepare them to use their bodies in a safe and mature way.

Works Cited
"The Office of Adolescent Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services." Office of
Adolescent Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.
Person, and Matt Essert. "The States With the Highest Teenage Birth Rates Have One Thing in
Common." Mic. N.p., 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
"STD Rates among Utahs Youth on the Rise." Fox13nowcom. N.p., 29 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Apr.
2016.
"Utah Adolescent Reproductive Health Facts." Hhs, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
"Utah Department of Administrative Services Division of Administrative Rules." UT Admin
Code R277-474. School Instruction and Human Sexuality. April 1, 2016. N.p., n.d. Web.
29 Apr. 2016.
The Utah Department Of Health (Udoh) Would Like To Recognize The Efforts Of Local Health
Department Personnel, Throughout The State Of Utah Who Play A Critical Role In Case
Investigation And Data Collection Of Sexually Transmitted, Diseases., and Sexually
Transmitted Disease Data For Utah Are Published By The Udoh Bureau Of
Epidemiology. Please Direct. SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE SURVEILLANCE
UTAH 2005-2014 (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.