Winners chosen after entering Sex Education Essay Contest
LAS VEGAS – American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada (ACLUNV) hosted a sex education essay contest (#SexEdSay) for Clark County high school students attending public schools. ACLUNV encouraged students in grades 9 through 12 to write an essay explaining their needs and perspectives about what sex education should be. In time for Sex Education Month, three winners have been chosen and were awarded a total of $10,000 in scholarships.
Below are the three winning students and the scholarship amount each will receive:
- First Place: Samantha Gingrich, 12th grade student at College of Southern Nevada High School - Cheyenne Campus
- Second Place: Riley Schlemmer, 9th grade student at Las Vegas Academy
- Third Place: The third place winner, also a 9th grade student, has requested to remain anonymousdue to concern with their parents’ objection to sex education. The winner will still be awarded the scholarship funds.
The essays were reviewed by Heather Lusty, UNLV Honors College; David Beasley, UNLV English Department; Mary Yedinak, a member of the community; Lea Williams, UNLV College of Education; and Don Barlow, community member. After reviewing the essays and determining the winners, the Judges said the following about the experience:
“Essay submissions detailed a variety of deficiencies in our public education system's SexEd/Health Education structure. CCSD students are painfully aware of the inaccuracies, oversights, and general lack of usefulness in the curriculum provided by their schools, and highlighted the need for more serious, diverse, inclusive, and informative lessons in the fundamental health-related issues they face daily.”
The ACLU of Nevada sponsored this essay contest to provide an opportunity for Clark County School District’s high school students to express their views about sex education.
“Students know exactly what they have or have not been taught, what they know, and what they need to know, but their voices have been ignored or silenced throughout the CCSD process,” said Tod Story, executive director. “With our #SexEdSay scholarship competition, students were given the opportunity to finally express themselves without their voices being muted. We can only hope that their insights, perspectives, and needs will move our community to adopt a sex education that meets the health needs of all of our students, rather than catering to the fears of some vocal parents.”
The ACLUNV believes students know best what information they need to be educated about keeping themselves safe and healthy and created this opportunity due to the specific limits within the district’s current sex education program, student exclusion, and delays in updating the curriculum. This contest demonstrated how free speech works by giving students a platform for expressing their views.