There are vast differences in sexual health education internationally. This paper examines peer-reviewed articles, international reports, and government mandated sexual health curricula to compare the current sexual health education in two countries, Denmark and the United States. Sexual health education has been slowly incorporated into the education system since the early 1900s but at different levels of comprehension and thoroughness. Denmark currently has one of the most comprehensive sexual health educations in the world, which includes information on safe sex, prevention against sexually transmitted infections, gender and sexuality, and diversity. Sexual health education in the United States differs significantly from Denmark, primarily because each state uses a different curriculum and several of the states do not teach sexual health whatsoever. To illustrate the point, I draw on two main examples: Texas and New Mexico. Texas has an abstinence-only approach to teaching sexual health. Health studies are required to be taught in grades one through eight and must be offered at the high school level. In comparison, New Mexico’s sexual health education curriculum is more progressive. It is also mandatory, although parents and guardians can choose to remove their children from the lessons. However, the two countries are not entirely in opposition. Both put an emphasis on teaching about the impact and prevention of HIV and both lack adequate teaching on sexual consent. The impact of the different approaches to sexual health education between the two countries is reflected in the higher frequency of unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and rates of HIV among American teens compared to Danish teens. These findings suggest that a comprehensive sex education curriculum gives students actionable skills that they can use to protect themselves from the consequences of unsafe and uneducated sex.
Goldstein, Rachel, "Sexual Health Education: A Comparison Between Denmark and the United States" (2017). 2017 Undergraduate Awards. 18.