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Destigmatization of Sex Education in Media

While some may argue that television series with sexual content open up an avenue for necessary conversations to ensure the safety and education of teenagers, there is debate regarding their negative impact. There are concerns that these shows are responsible for the normalization of people wanting to become sexually active at even younger ages. The romanticization of sex in media has made its way into many films, most of the time, for unnecessary reasons. The ongoing discourse revolves around the extent to which sexual education in media should be destigmatized and the distinction between informative content and harmful portrayal. 

Netflix’s Sex Education is a television series for teens created by Laurie Nunn that explores the experiences of teenagers and adults navigating sexual intimacy. Sexuality is seen in many media, including shows like this, movies, music, and social media. This subject elicits polarizing viewpoints, leading to its taboo nature or excessive portrayal. 

Some believe that normalizing sexual education in media can lead to minors being exposed to romanticized portrayals of sex, which may give them the wrong ideas about what constitutes safe behavior. These shows can often perpetuate harmful behaviors that youth might learn from– severely altering their perception of sexual intercourse. 

“[Netflix’s Sex Education] is definitely entertaining as a viewer but the show doesn’t depict the reality of most high schools in our area,” said an anonymous student at CHS. “I think it tries to teach us about safe behavior […] but the overlapping dramas of the show may overlook the true goal.”

The contrary viewpoint asserts that sexual education through media is crucial for individuals who lack alternative sources of information. In many households, discussing sexual education remains taboo, leaving young individuals without proper guidance. Media platforms can be a valuable resource for young adults lacking parental support and guidance in various aspects of life.

“I don’t know if [the show] romanticizes sexual intercourse, but its goal is to make it not a touchy subject anymore or embarrassing to talk about,” the same student countered.

The gradual normalization of sex developed over time, with trailblazing forms of media that transformed the topic into a marketable entity. Prior to the destigmatization of sex in media, there was less awareness about safe sexual behavior and how to approach intercourse. According to the Institute for Family Studies, there has been a 15% decrease in sexual activity among high school students, dropping from 54% in 1991 to 38.4% in 2019. Additionally, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the use of any contraception at first sex for teen males increased from 82.0% in 2002 to 92.1% in 2015–2019. These changes may be attributed to the increased availability of proper education when needed.

There are valid concerns regarding how sexual education in the media can contribute to the normalization of youth wanting to become sexually active earlier and potentially teach unsafe intimate behaviors. Nonetheless, one of the benefits of sexual education in media is the essential information it offers to young individuals who lack parental guidance. It serves as a platform for learning and facilitating discussions on sensitive topics that might otherwise be challenging to access due to societal taboos. Therefore, sexual education and content in the media should be used in moderation, when it doesn’t force damaging concepts in a romanticized manner but instead educates the youth on safety in intimacy.

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Nitya Dhulipala
Nitya Dhulipala, Writer

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