Our Perspective: Is online sex ed. the method of the future?
Andrea Barrica, a woman of Silicon Valley, recently made headlines for launching a virtual classroom aimed at cultivating sex-positive sexual education. Her model seeks to provide sex education and discussions about female sex and sexuality in a positive and accepting manner. She especially focuses on sexual wellness and safely increasing pleasure. This looks as though it could potentially be a great platform for young women to learn about their sexuality outside of school-taught, classroom sex ed., which can sometimes leave a lot to be desired.
However, Barrica is not the first person to create online classrooms and resources to address our country’s dire need for better and more comprehensive sexual education. In fact, if you search “online sex ed.”, tons of resources quickly become available to you, teaching everything from contraceptives to general sexual behavior to pregnancy and more. With 87% of Americans having access to the Internet, this seems like a great platform by which to reach large audiences and provide them with the education and resources they desire.
The increasing prevalence of online sex education sites has a number of benefits. First, it increases the accessibility of comprehensive sex ed. to any young people that desire it, regardless of the views of their school’s administration or their parents. These platforms provide students the ability to learn about sex in ways that are relevant and important to them. Additionally, students can use these online platforms to either expand on what they learn in sex ed. in schools, or to fill gaps that schools so often leave. With so many schools nationwide still using abstinence-only methods of teaching sex ed., online resources become much more attractive to young people to answer questions that schools leave unanswered. There also exist so many good resources in this day and age that students can use to better their understanding. Websites like sexedlibrary.org have hundreds of lessons and categories to choose and learn comprehensive sex education from.
However, there are a number of drawbacks to online systems of education as well. First, there is so much information on the Internet, and not all of it is true. While there are many great resources out there, there are just as many that teach inaccurate sex ed., as the Internet isn’t a highly regulated platform. Anyone can post anything, and as a result, young people may learn even more inaccurate information by exploring the Internet. Additionally, if children are starting from either inaccurate or no sex ed., it is likely that they will not even know what to search for in terms of filling in knowledge gaps or finding out the truth about sex and sexuality. Between not knowing what to be searching for, and having no clear basis by which to differentiate true information from false, online systems of education could potentially leave students even more confused or lost.
Overall, I think it is important for more resources to become available online for students wanting to learn more about sex. The more high-quality information we make available to young people, the more likely we are to combat the problems of being overburdened with conflicting information like we see in the status quo. Of course, increasing the accessibility of online information cannot be the only solution. Long-term, we must work and fight to make comprehensive sex ed. the norm in schools. However, while we work on that goal, in the short-time, increasing sex ed. resources on the internet seems like a good place to start.
By Claire Kueffner
Claire is currently a senior at Tulane University pursuing a degree in Legal Studies in Business and Gender and Sexuality Studies.
- How This Former Venture Partner Is Using Sexual Wellness As A Tool To Empower Women Forbes (October 20, 2017)
- 13% of Americans don’t use the internet. Who are they? Pew Research Center (September 7, 2016)
Our Perspective contributions are written by the interns from Tulane University working with Lift Louisiana to advance reproductive health, rights and justice.