Raising the Grade: Let’s Talk About Sex
Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 10:04
With high standards in the classroom, Georgetown has work to do in bedroom education after ranking 120th out of 141 schools in the 2010 Trojan Sexual Health Report Card.
Sexual health education has long been a hot-button issue on campus because of the university's Catholic identity. But the university has taken a step forward with its announcement of a sexual health peer education group, sponsored by Health Education Services. If given the proper leeway, this student group could be a firm step forward in improving the sexual health resources on campus.
The sexual health statistics in the United States are startling: One in every two sexually active young people will contract a sexually transmitted disease by age 25. The U.S. teen pregnancy rate is among the highest in the developed world — twice that of Canada and Sweden. One in every four women in college has either been raped or experienced a rape attempt.
Despite this alarming data, Georgetown has lagged behind comparable universities in providing information about sexual health to its students. Students in a Biology of Global Health class recently surveyed 676 students from across the country. When asked how they would rate sexual education on their respective campuses, 23 percent of Georgetown students called it "nonexistent," while only 14 percent of non-Georgetown students said the same.
As a Catholic university, Georgetown has the right to restrict on-campus access to contraceptives and limit university insurance coverage. However, the university has a responsibility to educate its students about sexually transmitted disease and sexual assault.
The university should embrace its Jesuit tradition of education and social justice by spreading awareness and encouraging openness in the discussion of this controversial topic. In caring for the whole person, the university should not neglect a facet of its students' health simply because it may be uncomfortable. Though pre-marital sex goes against Catholic doctrine, student health needs to take precedence. By supporting information about how to manage a sexually transmitted disease or assault, the university is adequately empowering students without promoting behavior contrary to Catholic doctrine.
While the creation of a sexual health peer education group will be a step in the right direction, there is still uncertainty regarding the group's jurisdiction and role on campus. The university could easily take two steps backward if in the name of religion it fails to equip the group to freely provide necessary information. The group should be able to engage in frank dialogue with students to dispel myths and promote safe practices as a part of the university's initiative to create a greater on-campus support system surrounding sexual health issues. As an institution that values education, the university has an obligation to provide the necessary means for students to stay safe and informed.