John Oliver is known for his hilarious and insightful takes on some of our nation’s most controversial political and social issues. In a recent segment on his popular TV show, Last Week Tonight, he applied his unique brand of snark to sex education in a video we think everyone should see.
If you gave most people the choice between talking to teens about sex or getting an unmedicated root canal, many of them would probably choose the root canal. Talking to teens about sex is awkward and uncomfortable, and we hate it so much that some parents and educators ignore the subject entirely. But as Oliver points out, not giving our kids the basics about the birds and the bees is only setting them up for pregnancy and disease later.
Oliver notes that there is no standard for sex education in the United States. It’s up to individual states to decide what students learn and what information is withheld. That means two kids from two different high schools could have completely different levels of sex education, which is completely nuts because, as Oliver points out, “Human sexuality — unlike calculus — is something you actually need to know about for the rest of your life.”
In order to combat the problem, Oliver put together a hilarious star-studded sex education video modeled after some of the ridiculous videos shown in actual classrooms all over the country. The video features A-listers like Laverne Cox and Nick Offerman teaching kids the basics of anatomy, abstinence, contraception, disease and consent.
If you don’t have time for 21 minutes of awesome, you can jump ahead to the 17:50 mark to see:
Obviously, the video is intended for laughs, but you have to admit it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if we actually started talking to teens like this. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47 percent of teens have had sex, and 41 percent of those sexually active teens did not use a condom the last time they did the deed. The CDC also reports 273,000 babies were born to girls between the ages of 15-19 in 2013.
Kids are having sex and getting pregnant whether we like it or not. No amount of fear-mongering is going to keep them from getting a sexually transmitted infection or making a baby, but talking to them about contraception and basic sex education might. The CDC has statistical data on sex education in every state in the country, and over and over again, the numbers show that states with better sex education have lower rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.
Sex is a weird subject to bring up with your kids, but the conversation is only as awkward as you make it. If we can approach it with humor and common sense, just like Oliver did, we can give kids the information they need to make good choices without anyone getting embarrassed and turning 50 shades of red. Sex is a totally normal part of life that are kids are eventually going to participate in, and it’s important to their health and safety that we start treating it that way.