I'm a proponent for starting sex education in middle school. I attended public schools in KY in the 80s. I remember in KINDERGARTEN that some kids were "going out with" and being "girlfriend/boyfriend" even then! While they obviously didn't exactly know what that meant, they already had those thoughts in their head, probably from exposure to inappropriate tv programs and perhaps the examples their parents set. In high school, I think we had one girl who was pregnant, maybe two, out of a class of less than 150.
Meanwhile, without sex education in middle school, I probably wouldn't know anything myself. My parent (both medical professionals) were strict--I wasn't allowed to wear makeup, spend the night at anybody's house, watch kissing on tv, wasn't allowed to go to evening activities like football games, or even movies at night (because people might be making out in the back of the theater, let alone the sex scenes/romantic scenes taking place on the screen). I would be sternly interrogated if my dad happened to catch one of my male classmates innocently saying hi to me when we were out in public. I grew up in a household where my dad would turn off the tv or fast-forward through all the love scenes--even when I was in college! Needless to say, there were no talks about sex in my house. I ended up sneaking romance novels out from the library, just to find out what the act of sex involved. (And I can also honestly admit that those books REALLY expanded my vocabulary--all those flowery adjectives, even during the non-sex parts!, lol!
I was a valedictorian, so I wasn't stupid, but there are SO MANY aspects of sex I didn't feel comfortable asking people about. My peers were swaggering around, boasting of their sexual knowledge (whether true or not--and our society makes it seem "cool" to be sexy and and yes, hormones are raging), so I didn't dare admit my ignorance to them. My parents were out of the question. Who did that leave for me to find out information?
At least the Internet is one option now, even though it wasn't really available to me when I was a teen. It was around, but my family didn't have a computer when I was in middle school.
My school's sex education program was too brief, but it still provided me with more information than I otherwise would have had. I definitely believe that schools should have more comprehensive sex-ed classes--ones that include all the options--INCLUDING abstinence, legal ramifications of pregnancy, and DEFINITELY self-esteem and peer pressure issues, and I definitely agree that the teacher has to be COMMITTED to providing all the options without showing a clear preference for one option over the others. I also liked the "anonymous box" we had in our brief sex ed class--students were encouraged to anonymously drop into the box at any time any questions they didn't feel comfortable asking publically, and the teacher the next day would get the questions out of the box and address them. I also think that separating the sex ed class into boys and girls is a good idea.
For those parents who don't wish their kids to be exposed to sex education in schools, I supposed they should be given the option of allowing their child to be excused from taking the class, but I honestly believe that is a HUGE mistake. It's probably a far better idea for the parent to sit down with the child prior to the class, explain his or her own views of why abstinence is better, and perhaps reinforce that view everyday by sitting down with the child and discussing what all that the child learned in sex ed class that day. Such a thing will allow the parent to get their message across that abstinence is important and preferable without making the child feel completely isolated from his or her classmates--and the child is still getting most of the information--JUST IN CASE. After all, knowledge isn't bad--it's what you choose to do with that knowledge.