Student symposium lecture: Call for Sex Education Reform

by Hayley O’Brien

On April 22 senior Megan Hinzdel urged Whitworth students and church communities to actively support comprehensive sex education during the last student symposium lecture of the year.

Today’s church culture, where sex is not openly discussed, has created two issues: a focus on female purity and abstinence only education, Hinzdel said.

The emphasis on female purity is evident by the prevalence of purity balls and purity rings in American culture Hinzdel said in her lecture. In both instances a daughter pledges her virginity to her father until marriage.

“This places such a heavy burden on the female alone, although  in the Bible it is really the male and the female that are supposed to stay pure until marriage,” Hinzdel said. “Our society has placed the burden on the female.”

Putting the burden to stay pure on girls alone is problematic because we live in a culture where rape exists, Hinzdel said.

Sixty-eight percent of sexual assaults are unreported and the top two reasons females don’t report rape is because of self doubt, shame and embarrassment, Hinzdel said.

“I truly think this is because our society places the burden on females to stay pure,” Hinzdel said.

In addition to the emphasis on female purity abstinence only education is an issue that has arisen from the lack of conversation about sex in churches, Hinzdel said.

A study done by the House of Representatives in 2004 found that of the 13 commonly used curriculum in abstinence only education only two curricula were scientifically accurate, Hinzdel said. Some of the false claims taught include that condoms fail 31 percent of the time, HIV can be spread through sweat and tears and a person can get pregnant by touching another’s genitals.

In her lecture, Hinzdel went on to correlate the absence of comprehensive sex education in a state to higher rates of teen sexual activity, pregnancy and HIV.

“Obviously, I can’t change the church’s stance on sexual purity, nor do I want to, but I think what we can do is make sure those inside and outside of the church community are educated so they feel they can make safe, informed and logical decisions about sex,” Hinzdel said.

The best way to encourage people to make the informed decisions and stop society’s emphasis on female purity  is to provide students comprehensive sex education, Hinzdel said.

Sophomore Jenna Hulse attend Hinzdel’s lecture.

“I think education, especially sex education, is important to empower people to make their own decisions about their body and values,” Hulse said.

According to the Advocates for Youth website, comprehensive sex education is education that “teaches about abstinence as the best method for avoiding STDs and unintended pregnancy, but also teaches about condoms and contraception to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and of infection with STDs, including HIV. It also teaches interpersonal and communication skills and helps young people explore their own values, goals, and options.”

“I really like that last part because I feel like it’s something Whitworth also values,” Hinzdel said. “When we educate each other on our beliefs and our ethics and our values we are more informed to create our own worldviews and to act upon our own ethics and I hope that we can give that privilege to teenagers as well.”

Contact Hayley O’Brien at

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