Comprehensive sexuality education is critical to young people’s ability to make healthy and informed sexual decisions. It provides accurate information about human sexuality, gender identity, reproduction and sexual health; presents opportunities to explore and understand one’s own values regarding sexuality; develops skills to communicate and relate to others in healthy, satisfying, meaningful ways; and supports the ability to make sexual decisions with integrity to one’s self and respect for others.
The Alliance believes that equal access to sexuality education for young people of all races, cultures, ethnicities, gender identities and economic circumstances is a matter of social justice. Learning to make intentional and respectful sexual decisions helps teens to stay healthy and safe, and avoid too-early pregnancy and the lost opportunities and economic barriers that often follow.
The Alliance believes that parents, schools, community based organizations, religious institutions, and other caring adults have an important role to play in providing comprehensive sex education to youth. Research demonstrates that many factors impact the likelihood of teen pregnancy, such as family, peer, and community factors. Our fact sheet, Important Risk and Protective Factors Affecting Adolescent Sexual Behavior, details what research says helps prevent teen pregnancy (protective factors) and what increases the likelihood of teen pregnancy.
Comprehensive sex education is one important piece of preventing teen pregnancy. To prevent teen pregnancy, teens need access to accurate and complete sexuality information, access to condoms and contraception when appropriate, and a perception of opportunity for the future.
The Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy supports a comprehensive approach to sexuality education, which includes information about reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancy and STIs by use of condoms and other contraceptives, while also stressing the value of delaying sexual activity. Research supports that comprehensive sex education is effective at preventing teen pregnancy. However, the sum of sex education research has not demonstrated abstinence-only-until-marriage programs as effective at preventing teen pregnancy.1
For more information on sex education research and policy, see:
- What Works to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
- Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Douglass Kirby, 2007
- Programs that Work, Advocates for Youth
For More Information on sex education policy in Massachusetts visit:
- Advocates for Youth’s Sex Education Resource Center.