Editor’s note: About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 61st annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 8. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. This essay addresses the issues covered by the School Days group.
As teenagers, sex education is extremely important in our transition to becoming young adults. Rather than treating the topic as something awkward and taboo, our group candidly discussed its significance.
Sex education must be more comprehensive, including the culture behind the act and consensual practices. In the 21st century, more and more teenagers, including myself, are comfortable in expressing our sexuality.
This is why safe sex practices for LGBTQIA+ identities must be included in our curriculum. As a gay man, this is vitally important for me to discuss, as most of my knowledge has been gleaned from my peers and not from educators, which can be harmful if improper information is passed on. On the other hand, some parents are uncomfortable with allowing teaching about these topics outside the home, but this would be corrected with parental consent for minors. The importance of safe sex does not just lie with teen pregnancy, but with protecting against the spread of STDs and STIs over a wide range of sexualities. In a growing and maturing society, providing comprehensive sex education for the teen population is needed.
We also discussed whether student- athletes should receive special treatment in the form of extended deadlines for work assignments. Our group included several individuals who are in sports, and they discussed their struggles with managing school and their activities. I have the same problems, as I am responsible for several different organizations within my school. Many of my peers shared the same issue. However, the room came to a strong consensus that special treatment should not be given to athletes. Instead, those involved in several activities should ask teachers themselves for extended deadlines. Also, students should fully utilize study hall times to accomplish their work.
Discussing whether undocumented students should receive the same educational services as those with citizenship status, a focal point was whether education is a universal right. We agreed that services tailored to different immigrant statuses must be provided in Clark County. Many high schools in the valley have students who need these services but do not receive them. This is an urgent need, especially in the current political climate.
The School Days discussion showed how the reorganization and lack of funding for our school district has affected our daily lives.
As an individual who came to America from the Philippines in hopes of a better future, living in a household with an extreme lack of money and coming from a community filled with mostly underprivileged minorities, I can attest that help is needed. Bright minds are being compromised because of a lack of resources.
This is simply heartbreaking. The window for those like myself seems to be getting much smaller. Something must be done.
Miguel Ordanez is a senior at Valley High School.