The Reproductive Rights Committee of the Pinedale Women’s Advocacy Group in Sublette County, Wyoming, prepared an interesting and informative article titled “Teen Pregnancy in Wyoming: A Case for Sex Education”:
Teen Pregnancy in Wyoming:
A Case for Sex Education
In 2016 Wyoming had the 11th highest rate out of the 50 states for teen birth rates per 1000 girls between the ages of 15 -19 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics). This rate is too high and is unacceptable for our Wyoming youth. The physical, psychological and financial risks and challenges associated with teen pregnancies are well documented. One key element for decreasing teen pregnancy is sex education.
Sex education should be medically accurate; age and culturally appropriate; unbiased; comprehensive including abstinence, birth control and condoms; and not be used as a tool to promote religion. Is this form of sex education available across Wyoming? The overall answer to this question is no, even though there are examples of excellent sex education programs in our state.
According to the Guttmacher Institute (https://www.guttmacher.org, Sex and HIV Education, December 2017) 24 states mandate either general requirements or content requirements for sex, HIV, STDs and AIDS education. Wyoming is not one of these states.
For years there has been debate as to who is responsible for teaching sex education. “Although most parents provide information about contraception or other sexual health topics, their knowledge of these topics may be inaccurate or incomplete.” (https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/facts-american-teens-sources-information-about-sex, August 2017). Everyone needs to share in this responsibility, but most importantly our schools play a key role because this is where trained facilitators can reach kids.
Legislators and leaders in the State have the power to help reduce teen pregnancy, as well as providing our youth with tools to help them make informed decisions should they decide to become sexually active. Support for sex education when local school districts ask for funding is a positive way to help prevent our youth from being saddled with the overwhelming responsibility of parenthood.