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Comprehensive sex education is a style of sex education which teaches about contraceptive methods such as condoms and the pill in addition to more traditional methods such as abstinence. Comprehensive sex education helps young people examine their own values and decide whether becoming sexually active is the right choice for them. Topics discussed in comprehensive sex education include human development, relationships, sexual health, and sexual expression. Potentially controversial topics such as abortion, sexual orientation, and masturbation are also discussed objectively and without judgement.
Above all, comprehensive sex education teaches that sexuality is a natural and healthy part of life to be enjoyed when students feel ready.
Just like in abstinence-only sex education, students who receive comprehensive sex education also learn that abstinence is the most effective way to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. However, teachers of comprehensive sex education supplement this information with the advice that condoms and birth control can reduce the risks of these complications.
Comprehensive sex education differs from abstinence-only sex education in the way it approaches certain values. Abstinence-only sex education teaches that there is just one set of correct moral values, whereas comprehensive sex education accepts that students may hold different and varying moral values that may or may not align with those of their other family members or peers.
While some critics of comprehensive sex education believe that it promotes sexual activity, evidence suggests that this approach actually delays the onset of sexual activity, reduces the number of sexual partners and frequency of sexual encounters that an individual, and increases the use of contraceptives. In addition, teens aged 15 to 19 who receive comprehensive sex education are 50 percent less likely to experience pregnancy. Many advocates believe that this is because comprehensive sex education provides all the facts about key issues, leading teens to make better, more responsible choices regarding their sexual behavior and health.
Comprehensive sex education is supported by 80% of adult Americans as well as many key medical organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Public Health Association.