Target: New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez
Goal: Require public schools to provide more comprehensive sex education and end abstinence-only curricula.
New Mexico has been consistently ranked as one of the states with the highest teen pregnancy rate. While only 24 states nationwide mandate sex education–including New Mexico–the curriculum is not serving its public school students effectively.
New Mexico is required to teach sex education, but according to The Guttmacher Institute, the curriculum is not mandated to be medically accurate, and is meant to stress abstinence only. Students learn about STIs, unwanted pregnancy, and other risks that come with sexual activity, but by not empowering young people to take charge of their sexuality and preaching abstinence, teens suffer. Without access to contraception or sex-positive education, teens are unprepared when becoming sexually active and feel as though they have nowhere to turn when they have questions.
The United States has inadequate sex education compared to Europe. The Netherlands, for example, begins sex education at age four. Instead of focusing on abstinence, instructors focus on appropriate touching and symbols of affection before moving on to teach lessons on body image, sexual identity, gender stereotypes and eventually intercourse. By normalizing interpersonal and sexual relationships, countries like the Netherlands take away the mystery and stigma behind sex and have low teen pregnancy and STI rates.
Please ask New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez to end abstinence-only sex education in favor of more inclusive curricula, and encourage other states to do the same.
Dear Governor Martinez,
Sex education in New Mexico’s public school system is falling short. As a state with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, New Mexico must do better to teach students about contraception and take the focus off of abstinence-only education.
Abstinence-only education has been proven ineffective when it comes to teen pregnancy rates. While New Mexico is one of only 24 states legally required to teach sex education, the curriculum is not required to be medically accurate, and must stress abstinence. This harms teens who are becoming sexually active but are not given the appropriate resources to prevent pregnancy, STIs, or the ability to turn to a trusted adult with questions.
Other countries have made great strides when teaching young people about sex. The Netherlands starts teaching lessons on appropriate behavior to students as young as four years old. As a result, the Netherlands has a low rate of teen pregnancy and STIs. The current United States curriculum places a stigma on sexual activity, whereas the openness of the Netherlands allows young people to ask questions and act responsibly.
Please require New Mexico’s sex education to be medically accurate, remove the stress on abstinence education, and encourage other states to follow suit.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: BruceBlaus