What is consent?
by Amanda Lerma
When regarding the topic of sex, consent is one of the basic issues that must be discussed. Although playing a significant role in sexual relations, the subject of consent is widely overlooked and thereby some do not understand exactly what consent is.
Consent is typically given through verbal communication, agreeing or disagreeing with the invitation of sexual activity. That means talking to the person before and throughout any form of sexual activity to ensure that both partners feel secure. Without communication neither person will know the other’s boundaries, potentially resulting in an uncomfortable environment for both partners. Communication can occur in questions such as, “Can I kiss you?” “Are you okay with this?” and “Does this feel good?”
It is important to understand that people have the right to change their minds in the aforementioned situations. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network states, “You can change your mind at any time. You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable.” The usage of simple phrases like, “Do you want to go further?” and “Are you comfortable?” can help ensure both partners feel safe. If a person feels unsure and changes their mind, as of that point they are no longer giving consent.
Even if the two are dating, just being in a relationship and having past sexual engagements does not equal consent. Just because someone agrees to have sex once does not mean that they are required to have sex with the same partner again.
For some, the lines of consent blur when one of the partners is unconscious. Tea Consent, a Blue Seat Studios video that goes over the basics of consent, states that an unconscious person is not able to consent to sexual activities due to their inability to say no while in an unconscious state.
Understanding the definition of consent and exactly what qualifies as consent, will help to further create a healthy relationship.
Forms of Contraceptives
Sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents
by Tiffany Nguygen
Adolescents account for a large portion of the reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) worldwide. There are roughly 20 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States, 50% of which are people between the ages of 15 and 24, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The high statistics may be the effect of reasons such as young people lacking transportation to STD testing locations, feeling embarrassed to get tested, having a schedule that conflicts with test dates, and not having enough money. As a result, one in four teenagers contract an STD every year, an estimation done by the American Social Health Association and the Minnesota Department of Health.
There are more than 20 types of STDs, which are also known as sexually transmitted infections. The most common STDs include Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Human Papillomavirus, Syphilis, and Trichomoniasis. STDs can commonly cause painful urination, uncomfortableness around the genitals, painful intercourse, genital rashes, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, and other symptoms that will vary depending on the specific type of STD.
Individuals can contract an STD through sexual contact and the transfer of bodily fluids as a result of the transmission of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and yeasts from one person to the next. Correctly using latex condoms greatly reduces the chance of receiving an STD but does not completely eliminate the possibility.
Symptoms may not always be obvious, and those who are sexually active should test for STDs regularly. Individuals who are concerned should visit a local STD testing center or doctor for additional information and diagnosis. The nearest STD testing locations include the Alhambra Health Center and Kaiser Permanente Montebello Medical Offices. With insurance, an initial test may cost up to $100, but there may be financial assistance if requested.
School Nurse Louise Tsoi provides brochures and information regarding STDs in the nurse’s office. Tsoi will talk individually with students and staff if they have questions or concerns.
Options for pregnancy
by Qilin Li
There are many ways of dealing with a pregnancy, including parenthood, adoption, and abortion. No matter what decision is made, being informed of all possible options may help one make the choice best suited to them.
Parenthood can be pursued if a decision is made to keep the baby. Taking into account financial, educational, and family circumstances, raising a child may be the decision for some.
Another option is allowing a child to be adopted by another family. A closed adoption keeps the birth parents’ information confidential, while an open adoption may keep the birth parents in touch with the child. These options can be further explored and discussed with professionals.
Another option is abortion. The WebMD site describes different types of abortions as follows.
In the first trimester–conception up until week 12 of pregnancy–options of terminating a pregnancy include medical or surgical abortion. Medical procedures commonly involve the intake of two separate drugs and are usually only available within the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Vacuum aspiration is a surgical procedure that is also available up until the early second trimester, consisting of a suction removing the fetus and placenta.
In the second trimester–13 to 27 weeks of pregnancy–options are solely surgical and become more complicated. This includes dilation and evacuation (D&E), a process similar to vacuum aspiration but with the additional use of forceps and other medical tools.
Abortions in the third trimester–from 28 weeks to birth–are considered late-term abortions and consist of dilation and extraction, which takes a similar procedure as D&E. In California, abortions on viable pregnancies (pregnancies where the baby can be born and have a reasonable chance of survival) are limited unless the life or health of the mother is endangered.
California law states that minors can consent to an abortion and pregnancy diagnosis, treatment, and inpatient care without parent or guardian consent. Procedures often differ depending on what is best for the individual.
It is vital to get help right away to prioritize one’s health. Consulting with parents, a doctor, school nurse, guidance counselor, or trusted adult is advised in deciding the next step. Seek professional advice for detailed information based on your situation. Mental health services may also be helpful.
Sources: American Pregnancy Association, Guttmacher Institute, National Center for Youth Law, Palo Alto Medical Center, Planned Parenthood, WebMD
What sex education can teach young adults
by Melody Zhang
A comprehensive sex education can provide adolescents with the knowledge and information needed to make safe and healthy choices about sex, create healthy relationships, prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and understand adolescent growth as something normal.
Under the California Healthy Youth Act, school districts are required to provide students with sex education once in middle school and once in high school. According to the California Department of Education, the instructional criteria must include subjects such as all federal Food and Drug Administration approved methods of preventing and reducing the risk of transmission of human immunodeficiency viruses and other STIs, sexual harassment, sexual assault, abusive relationships, human trafficking, and so on. It must also be inclusive of LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, and English learners.
There is widespread support for a comprehensive sex education, as indicated in a poll done by Planned Parenthood, where 93 percent of parents supported having sex education taught in middle school, and 96 percent supported having sex education taught in high school. A similar poll by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States shows that, as of 2018, 89 percent of voters supported sex education in middle school, and 98 percent supported sex education in high school.
However, what students receive instead lacks much of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to be taught. In a study by the Guttmacher Institute, in 2011–13, 43 percent of adolescent females and 57 percent of adolescent males did not learn about birth control before they had sex for the first time.
By teaching adolescents how to make healthy and important decisions about relationships and behavior that they will be responsible for in the future. They will be able to protect their sexual health and learn that it is okay to talk about issues concerning them, whether it be their sexuality, their bodies, or their choices.
California state laws regarding sexual health education
by Zhou Ye Xin
Although often considered the same, statutes, laws, acts, bills and education codes are different. California Statutes are bills chaptered by the Secretary of State. Chaptered bills are passed by both Legislative houses, with or without the governor’s signature. The California Law consists of 29 codes which organize these statutes. A bill is a proposed legislation that has not been passed.
The California Healthy Youth Act requires school districts in the state to expose their students to both sexual health and human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) prevention at least once in middle school and once in high school, for a total of two years. Effective since Jan. 1, 2016, the California Healthy Youth Act altered the previous Education Code (EC) regarding these two topics.
The California Department of Education states that the California Healthy Youth Act’s purpose is to enlighten students on the topics of sexual health and HIV prevention in order for students to “develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender, sexual orientation, relationships, marriage, and family.” Students of all genders and sexual orientations, as well as English learners and students with disabilities, will also learn how to prevent undesired pregnancies, protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, about sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
The EC gives students access to sensitive products on campus and the ability to leave campus to attain these products such as reproductive health care, without parental notice or consent. However, parents and guardians must be notified about the curriculum at the beginning of the school year and are able to opt-out their children from the course with a written request from the parent or guardian.
Following EC 51938, San Gabriel High School must provide “comprehensive sexual health education, HIV/AIDS prevention education, and/or will conduct assessments on pupil health behaviors and risks in the coming school year.” This information is taught by students’ physical education teachers. When outside consultants are invited to teach, the date and name of the organization must be provided to parents and guardians.
Senior Russell Ly wishes the volume of sex education taught to freshmen to increase.
“You’re taught very little sex education, especially if you have a theory class,” Ly said. “You’re learning more about your sport and practicing that over general [sexual] education. I think there should be a little bit more [information] about safe sex [taught] in the freshman year because it’s high school. You can’t exactly prevent it, but you can teach how it’s safe.”