VUSD students share their thoughts on participating in their own sexual education


The health textbooks located in the library used to teach the health course. Photo by: Doug Sandford

Liliana Lara and Douglas Sandford

For over 10 years now, Ventura High School’s Cougar Press has conducted an annual survey regarding sexual education and health for the students who attend VHS. In the Ventura Unified School District, no other school has any type of student ran sexual education.

In 2010, journalism teacher Dan Nelson and principal Valerie Wyatt approved a sex survey to be ran by The Cougar Press. Parents Julie and John Wilson of a student at the time decided to file a lawsuit against VHS, as they felt that it was too intrusive for VHS students to ask questions regarding virginity, drugs and sexual orientation:

The Cougars Press’ newspaper edition concerning sexual topics does not completely cover all aspects of sexual education. However, it sets VHS apart by the idea of helping students relate to and understand the often uncomfortable topics they are being taught in the classroom.

In this year’s annual Sex and Dating Survey, 1,014 students took part in the survey submitting various responses about aspects in their sexual life. 481 females took the survey, 503 males and 31 of other gender identities.

Junior Joey Smith who took the survey, was asked if he saw benefits in a student run sexual survey and edition, and he said, “Students should be engaged in what we are being taught, because ever since I started receiving sexual education it has been by textbook and teachers, and a student ran press conducting a survey like this is great.” Smith had also added that he “trust[s] the journalism staff who are also high schoolers who experience 21st century examples and create questions revolving around sexual education, rather than teachers reciting the textbook and using example from their lives in the 80s or whenever.”

All schools in VUSD use the same curriculum and provide the same information to students regarding sexual topics. The Cougar Press’ Sex Edition is what sets VHS apart. Not only are readers being provided with data about VHS students, but they are able to see the relevance of the topics they are learning in the classroom to their own community. Neither Buena Speaks or The Foothill Dragon Press have a Sex and Dating edition for their papers, and it seems that a few students from each school are okay with this.

Noah Hilles, a junior at Foothill, said, “I don’t see sex education within other classes as any kind of issue or hinderance to a student, however it isn’t enough of a necessity… to have it in the Foothill Dragon Press, as you can find other sources of sex ed. at Foothill.”

Autumn Rojelio, a junior at Buena, said, “If the student who is writing the paper in regards to sexual education is well-educated on the topic, then I wouldn’t have problems with it, but I think for liability reason[s] and just to be safe overall, it would be better if the teaching of sexual education would be left to the pros.”