Throughout the debate on Referendum 90 — the controversial sex ed question on November’s ballot — supporters have argued that comprehensive sexual health education keeps students safe and allows them to make healthy decisions when it comes to sex.
“These are really, really critically important skills for young people to have,” stated Dr. Eva Goldfarb, Professor in the Public Health Department. Dr. Goldfarb has researched and developed sexuality health education for the last 25 years.
Most recently, Dr. Goldfarb co-authored a Journal of Adolescent Health article titled “Three Decades of Research: The Case for Comprehensive Sex Education.”
Dr. Goldfarb and Dr. Lisa Lieberman, Montclair State University Department of Health chair, reviewed three decades of literature surrounding sexual health education.
Their research found that, along with lowering youth pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rates, comprehensive sex ed also prevents interpersonal violence and sexual abuse and improves healthy relationship development and social emotional learning.
Keeping children ignorant of sex does not protect them, Dr. Goldfarb added. Kids will still find access to information about sex.
“There’s no other topic area where we value ignorance over knowledge,” she said. Similar to other subjects, sex ed should be what Dr. Goldfarb calls “scaffolded learning.” Communication and emotional intelligence should be the basis for the more complicated sex ed discussions, she said.
“The evidence has been clear for a very, very long time that sex education does not increase sexual activity,” Dr. Goldfarb said. Additionally, Dr. Goldfarb’s research strongly supports the idea that consent education early prevents sexual assault and promotes healthy relationships. And, marginalized communities are affected by the lack of knowledge, education and resources, Dr. Goldfarb said.