Let’s Talk Month aims to destigmatize sex

Matthew Hagberg

October is Let’s Talk Month, a month-long campaign run by Planned Parenthood to get parents and their children talking about sex.

Nearly 82 percent of parents reported talking to their kids about sexuality, according to a 2014 Planned Parenthood survey. However, that same study states that only 60 percent discussed birth control methods.

We are in dire need of a new way to discuss sex. The U.S. still has some of the highest teen pregnancy rates for a developed nation, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s latest study, there are nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections every year, and about half of those infected are between the ages 15 and 24.

But how do we fix this problem? For starters, have a more well-rounded sex education in schools.

The Guttmacher Institute states that only 26 percent of young women are taught how to say no to sex. In addition, less than 5 percent of queer teenagers feel like their sex ed lessons adequately covered LGBTQA-related topics.

The same study states that of the 72 percent of public schools that require sex ed, around three quarters teach an abstinence-only approach.

By learning comprehensive sex ed instead of abstaining, teenagers will be less likely to have an unplanned pregnancy or catch an STI.

A study by the AIDS Research Institute showed comprehensive sexual education greatly reduces the risk of contracting AIDS and increases correct condom usage.

Secondly, change the way we think about sex. Many people feel shame or guilt after a sexual encounter.

This is because we are constantly bombarded with what is acceptable when it comes to expressing sexual desire.

Instead of criticizing the way people have sex, we should celebrate our sexualities as a fundamental aspect of what makes us human.

Plus, by reducing the stigma around sex, the doors open to discuss contraceptive methods, LGBTQA-related topics and, most importantly, consent.

Young people will feel more comfortable talking about sex if they think no one else will judge them.

Parents and their kids talking about sex can be more important than just learning sex ed in health class. Staying informed and doing research can provide a more comprehensive discussion.

Planned Parenthood has an extensive amount of research and resources about sex for both teenagers and adults. Read them, consider donating to Planned Parenthood and, of course, stay safe.