The Importance of Education: What Does it all Mean?

Education continues to be a pillar or a collective goal of society. It is both a community-based task and an individual journey, one’s education never really stops; however, it just changes its form. The problem between sexuality and education has persisted but developed over the years.

The history of the problem and its growth is clearly depicted in the text, The Education of Eros, where from the 1950s forward, key issues are highlighted. Nationally impacting key issues such as the teen pregnancy and unwed mothers, AIDS/HIV epidemic, battles with homosexuality and growth of homophobia, and the abstinence-only era. While pulling from past scholars, such as Foucault, Marcuse, and Butler, the text appropriately describes how the American viewpoint of sexuality and the adolescent has indeed changed.

At the same time, the text tells us how there are many problems left unsolved or resolved. For instance, in terms of marriage, Dennis Carlson stated; “the broadening of the definition of marriage is important…but it still restricts sexuality in ways that actively deny or discourage all forms of sexuality outside of marriage and family life”.

Allowing same-sex marriage at the federal level is a step in the right direction, but that doesn’t mean we’re done walking. Now we could go on for days discussing marriage, or heteronormativity, or the many aspects of internalized misogyny or homophobia and those conversations may never finish. As a reader, a student, a scholar, or whomever you may be, it is your choice to decide how much you want to learn about sexuality and our culture. Go out and read The Education of Eros or The History of Sexuality, look up a TedTalk and YouTube videos, or even ask yourself, “Do you really know what’s going on between your legs? Do you know what it’s all called? Do you know what makes things tick"?

If you are fresh out of adolescence and believe that you’re ready to take on the world with a brain full of sexuality knowledge and self-awareness, then go out and simply do. But if you find yourself frustrated, confused, scared or you can’t shake the feelings of guilt and shame, then take a step back.

Dennis L. Carlson beautifully depicts how “a truly democratic sexuality education would teach young people an ethic of care of the self and others, it would engage them in a critical, deconstructive reading of sexuality and identity in popular culture”. Although this may be the goal it isn’t necessarily a reality.

As recently as 2009, legislative acts such as the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) act were passed, which claimed to provide “medically accurate, age-appropriate” information while at the same time had the “stipulation that the program had to teach that abstinence is the best and only certain way to avoid the risks of pregnancy and STD’s”. Implying that "abstinence is the best and only" can have devastating and lasting impacts on current and future generations. It's not inclusive and it's not reality-based for most adolescents and young adults. Once again although things are changing, they aren’t necessarily resolved.

To read more about the REAL act go to Advocates for Youth. For more contemporary information, go to the Human Rights Campaign.

As a side note, education is a lifelong experience. And with the assistance of technology and the internet at one’s fingertips or in their back pocket, you should read the 31 Sexuality Resources You Need to Bookmark. This list is both handy and credible and easily accessible for anyone with an internet source.

-Written by Kaly Snow

References

Carlson, D. L. (2012). The Education of Eros A History of Education and the Problem of Adolescent Sexuality. Florence: Taylor and Francis.

The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction. (n.d.).