Week Three – Project Proposal: A Map and Timeline of Contraceptive Education Based on Teenage Pregnancy

Sexual education, and what it should and should not be, is an ongoing debate in North America. From Doug Ford’s government in Ontario reverting to a health and physical education curriculum from the 1990s (x), to the infamous sex ed curricula in the United States, where in 2011-2013, nearly half of all female and more than half of all male students did not receive information on any contraceptives before they became sexually active (x). This lack of education, combined with poverty and other contributing, interconnected factors (such as race, family income, location, and many more) can lead to higher rates of teenage pregnancy (x, x).

The intent of the project would be to consolidate scientific (and anecdotal, where necessary) data about the level of sexual/contraceptive education received in each electoral riding/Congressional district in North America to make evaluating this data much easier. The data would be useful for parents or older students seeking out areas with comprehensive sexual education to send their children/attend school; health, physical education, or sexual education teachers looking for districts that will allow them to teach their curricula; and researchers studying contraceptives, teen pregnancy, or studying a certain location where the data could be useful.

The project will be a interactive combination map and timeline, which will allow users to view teenage pregnancy rates and information on contraceptive education by selecting a year and then exploring a colour-coded map. Claudio Saunt of the University of Georgia has used a similar interactive time-lapse map as a companion to his book, West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, which is used to illustrate the invasion of Native American homelands and the creation of reservations in the states from 1776 to the current day. This map is available here. The map will be as inclusive as possible to help historians or any other users who are interested in medical history, but the true timeline of the map will be determined by available, reliable sources on contraceptive education/use.

Comprehensive sexual education that includes information on STDs, puberty, pregnancy, and birth; and that is inclusive of intersex, transgender, and queer people is vital and important to the health and mental well being of youth in North America. Contraceptive education is only the beginning.

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