Sex education can be an uncomfortable topic to tackle honestly within Christian circles — but that’s precisely what nursing major Katie Jugan is doing with her senior honors project.
The purpose of the project is to gauge the MVNU student body’s personal experiences with sexual education. Ultimately, Jugan hopes to ignite a reevaluation of Evangelical approaches to sex ed.
Throughout her college career and especially her time as an Resident Assistant, Jugan has noticed that many students come to college with little or no sex education.
While discussions of sex education usually take place during high school, college students are assumed to have the proper knowledge to make informed decisions regarding sexuality. According to Jugan, this isn’t always the case.
“I have my share of anecdotes about people not knowing their body parts or how pregnancy happens,” Jugan said.
The lack of knowledge is complicated by the “dueling messages of ‘sex is everything and everyone is doing it,’ and ‘sex is bad and you shouldn’t even think about it,’” she said.
Jugan sent out a survey to gauge students’ opinions about the adequacy of their own sexual health education. The survey did not include student opinions about what constitutes healthy sex, or their own sexual history, in order to keep the project focused and free of sensationalist statistics.
“There are many different ideas out there about who should teach kids about sex, and what they should have taught, but what about these students themselves? What did they want to know and who did they want to teach them?” Jugan asked.
A total of 98 students responded to her questions asking the best time and setting for sex education as well as who should be teaching it. Students also answered questions about the extent of their own education, and whether that education was enough for them to make healthy choices.
About 78 percent of respondents answered that they believed their education was adequate. The most common sources for sex ed were peers, followed by high school, media, parents and church. Many students had multiple sources of education.
Jugan also included a section for student comments in her survey and was thrilled with the variety of thoughtful responses.
“Some people seemed to have spent a lot of time typing up their comments,” Jugan said.
Some students said they were never taught anything about sex, while others said they were taught everything, she said.
According to Jugan, students wished they were more informed on contraception, the risks of sex, the emotional effects, reasons to abstain, what to do if you don’t abstain and even LGBT issues. We are not permitted to share any specific comments in The Viewer.
In her honors project proposal, Jugan cites the National Association of Evangelicals, which reports that, “80 percent of young evangelicals have engaged in premarital sex… and almost a third of evangelicals’ unplanned pregnancies end in abortion.”
Jugan commented in her proposal that “it is not just the unchurched that engage in premarital sex and deal with the consequences,” and says she finds it alarming that “one in five students don’t have the information they need.”
She said that while some students may be breaking the lifestyle guidelines, she believes “health information is a necessity” regardless of moral opinions.
Students who are engaged in sexual behavior may have conflicting ideas about sex and may not know how to prevent pregnancy, she pointed out.
Jugan said that she hopes to make MVNU aware of gaps in student’s knowledge so “the campus can begin to evaluate how to fill the gaps for students who feel they do not know enough in the area of sexual health.”
Jugan joined 15 other students presenting their projects at the Symposium for Undergraduate Research (sURC) on Blue Green Day.