The more you know

Sex education that includes gender inequality makes for safer sex

Peter Hoffman/The New York Times

A study by the Population Council found that “comprehensive” sex-education programs are most effective at reducing pregnancies and STIs when they include lessons on gender inequality. Nicole Haberland, senior associate at the Population council reviewed 22 sex-ed programs for adolescents and young adults and found that teaching about power and gender roles consistently predicted better health outcomes. The results are striking: 80 percent of the 10 programs including at least one lesson in gender and power saw significant decreases in pregnancy or STIs when compared with a control group. In the 12 programs that did not address these issues, however, only 17 percent led to those positive outcomes. Researchers were not surprised, however, as the link between gender inequality and poor sexual health has been long established. Young men adhering to traditional masculinity are less likely to use condoms, for example, and women who say they are less powerful in their relationships have higher rates of HIV and other STIs. This new study makes a powerful case to challenge young people to think about traditional gender roles and the unequal distribution of power in relationships as part of their sex-ed curriculum as this clearly contributes to better sexual health.

Read the full story at The Atlantic.


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