North Carolina schools tend to have large gaps in their sex education. (Photo Credit: Valerii Zan via Adobe Stock)

North Carolina state law mandates that some form of sex education be taught in public schools to students in grades seven, eight and nine. The parameters, however, are not strict. Many schools teach abstinence-only sex education while other schools utilize visual aids to teach STD prevention and contraceptive use.

These mandates are often completely forgone in the more rural areas of North Carolina and especially in those that are extremely conservative. Private Christian schools are also more likely to teach abstinence-only sex education without even including an anatomy component.

Unfortunately, these conversations between teachers and students do not often welcome further investigation beyond the classroom or local community. The Compass Center for Women and Families, based in Chapel Hill, has made it their mission to supplement the gaps within sex education.

In the past, Compass has provided aid for survivors of domestic violence, those who are unemployed, and persons who require mental health counseling. Hundreds of individuals have received legal counsel from Compass for divorce, child custody, and separation.

The educational aspect of Compass stems from their service to survivors of domestic violence. These instructions were not only for survivors, but for community members and professionals as well. Compass maintains that all persons within society should know how to interact with domestic abuse survivors and connect them to local domestic violence crisis services.

The Teens Climb High (TCH) empowerment program is a subsection of the Compass education initiative. Since the law mandates that schools must provide some sort of sex education to students by ninth grade, the TCH program endeavors to accomplish that in a much more comprehensive manner.

LGBTQ inclusivity is a central tenet of the program, which means that educators should use gender-neutral language, refer to students by their preferred names and pronouns, and emphasize the importance of consent across gender and sexual orientation.

While their accomplishments are admirable and have helped many, Compass is at a place today where assistance from able parties could be extremely beneficial.

In the area of education, for example, the materials utilized by Compass are in desperate need of updating. Even though the TCH program receives some funds from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, they continue to use instructional pieces from the 1990s. The goal of the Compass Center is to create a space that is more open to LGBTQ students and more detailed in their teachings.

For more information on the Compass Center for Women and Families and their LGBTQ education initiative, visit them on Facebook or at their website at compassctr.org.

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