Have you ever wondered how many Bucs are having sex? Well, the survey results are in. Janice Negvesky ’18 sat down to make sense of the raw data with Mrs. Fortunato, who has a Masters of Public Health and instructs the Health and Wellness portion of Freshman Seminar with Mrs. Ryerson.
Firstly, it’s important to understand the school’s attitude towards sex. As taught in Freshman Seminar and outlined in the student handbook, the school does not allow sex. Why? Blair is home to students of all backgrounds and upbringings, and not all families are comfortable with the same things. In addition to the fact that sex poses risks both emotionally and physically, in order for the school to be respectful to varying parent preferences, Blair’s stance is to not allow it.
What actually is the school’s policy? If students are caught engaging in sexual activity “there is a response,” explained Mrs. Fortunato, “[but] not a disciplinary one. The main goal is to protect the student’s health.” Parents or guardians of the students are called. A personal appointment is then set up with the Health Center to check for any health-related issues. The main goal is to safeguard the health of students, so the response doesn’t run through the usual disciplinary response. For instance, it is not a matter for R&D.
For years now, Blair has worked to create an environment through things like the Freshman Seminar’s Health and Wellness portion to educate students on these issues. The program originally started as a freshman-wide gathering once a week. With an assigned topic for that week, the students would break up into smaller groups led by 1-2 seniors. Today, the seminar takes a much more personalized, in depth approach. The hope is that the earlier students learn critical aspects of sexual education and related issues the healthier their relationships will be later.
What’s most important for the Seminar is that students get important facts. More than that, Mrs. Fortunato notes, is that students can “figure out what’s important and what they value, especially sexually what’s right for them at that time.”
The overall data on sexual relationships at Blair was consistent with national averages, suggesting that Blair should continue to emphasize education regarding sexual health and healthy relationships. The data the survey provided is already working to further develop Blair’s approach to sexual education.
Approximately a quarter– 26.8%– of Blair students report ever having had sexual intercourse, which is slightly higher than the national average of 22.6%. Though some may assume that this number means that our students are having sex at a higher rate than other high school students, the national average of 22.6% is only based on a national average of other private schools who participated in this survey. According to the most recent Center for Disease Control numbers, the average for public school students is 44% for females and 49% for males by the time they graduate.
About 2% of students at Blair responded that they were sexually active by age thirteen. The question that garnered this response was more vague than the previous one. Some people may have interpreted it as including oral sex or non-consensual interactions, while others may have thought it just referred to intercourse.
Students at Blair report being more comfortable about with their teachers, coaches and other adults in their lives than they do nationally. Those strong relationships with trusted adults are vital for the health and wellbeing of our students.
(Copyright 2018 Janice Negvesky)