More than half of Andover’s student body is above 16—the legal age of consent. Twenty-eight percent of students have had sex, according to the 2013 Phillipian State of the Academy survey. Despite these compelling numbers, Andover’s current sex education program does not adequately inform the student body about sex, a part of life that invariably affects every student at Andover.
An active dialogue between the students and the administration is imperative in designing a comprehensive sex ed curriculum, especially when sex is so often regarded as taboo on campus. This is why the sex ed forum last Monday, led by Frank Tipton, Jeremy Hagler and Dr. Amy Patel of the Sex Education Working Group, was so commendable.
The forum discussion was a promising first step towards creating a community where ambiguities regarding sex are dispelled and both students and faculty feel comfortable discussing issues of sex and sexuality. The Working Group’s willingness to hold such a forum shows that faculty members recognize the importance of both creating a more thorough sex ed curriculum and inviting students into the planning process.
Limited sex ed runs the risk of leaving students unprepared to handle the potential physical and mental consequences of their sexual behaviors. A four-year Andover student graduates with merely seven hours of sex ed, and with far too much variation in how each dorm, house counselor or faculty member approaches sex ed, it is clear that a remodeled and required program is in order.
The revised sex ed program should go beyond STDs and the mechanics of sex—it must include honest discussions about gender, consent, hook up culture, cultural expectations and sexuality. We believe that sex ed classes spread throughout the year or a term would allow the opportunity for deeper discussion and reflection over a longer period of time.
In the same vein, any such sex ed course would need to be immediately applied at Andover, a residential academic community where young students live far from their parents. Andover students need to know where they can, for example, obtain contraceptives on campus or get tested for STDs and pregnancy.
A comprehensive sex ed program would make Andover a safer and healthier campus. Monday’s forum represented more than just a necessary administrative change. It was an open, honest dialogue between students and faculty.
_This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVI._