Alaskan students band together to bring mandatory sex ed to schools

Anchorage Daily NewsOctober 1, 2008 

Amber Sawyer remembers her classmates, young and giggly and still riding a euphoric teenage high, cutting class and sneaking off with boyfriends to the nearby running trails. In the winter, when the Alaska cold was too much to bear, the same couples, passing on algebra class, would rendezvous at a local theater.

Some girls ended up pregnant. She doesn't know who ended up with a sexually transmitted infection.

"I know exactly how bad the sex ed was, because I sat through it too," says the 20-year-old Palmer Colony High graduate. "We were not informed."

Now Sawyer, a junior at the University of Alaska Anchorage, wants to do something about it. She, with other politically minded Anchorage college students and even some local high schoolers, are banding together to reform the way sex education is taught around the state. They're reversing roles and telling their parents and school administrators that kids need more safety talk, not less. Their goal: mandatory comprehensive sex ed in high school.

It would be a radical shift from the hands-off approach Alaska takes, which leaves sex ed to individual school districts. The result of the way it is now, Sawyer argues, is hit or miss teaching on the sensitive subject. "I met one girl from the Bush who didn't even know what a condom was," she said.

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