Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Safe sex practices

On Valentine’s Day, people get the chance to celebrate their love in a special way. Whether it’s romantic or platonic love, the priority should be to maintain healthy relationships. Relationships take hard work to stay successful. Without understanding the gravity of each decision, relationships can result in harsh side effects, both physically and emotionally. The best way to navigate this day of love is to protect yourself and set boundaries. 


Public schools in the state of Texas are required to emphasize abstinence in sex education. In 2021, the access to sex education was further limited due to the introduction of House Bill 1525. This law requires written parental consent before children receive sex ed. The state of Texas took these stances in attempts to curb teen pregnancy, STDs, and more serious infections, such as HIV. The current state sex education curriculum focuses mainly on goal setting, decision making, and preventing youth risk behaviors, according to Texas Health and Human Services. However, this education doesn’t place much emphasis on sex itself. In LISD, this subject is covered lightly in middle school and is taught as part of a high school elective called Health Education, but this information should be more widely and comfortably spread. Limited education on these matters and simply telling kids to not have sex the majority of the time provides limited resources and awareness when teens find themselves in a predicament. 


It can be daunting to ask adults for help about sex, but local psychiatrist Dr. Lisa Johnson encourages kids to have these conversations with their parents first. 

“I always want kids to have these dialogues with their parents,” Johnson said. “As much as no parent really is probably an advocate of ‘Let’s let my child be sexually active,’ hopefully, if their child is coming to them and talking about it, they’ll feel comfortable talking to them.”

Parents can give kids advice about sex and help them find proper medical care, if needed. Nearby emergency clinics can assist with STDs, pregnancy, and birth control. Gynecologists and obstetricians can offer help as well. The Internet can also be a good resource, but it should be used with caution because it can be difficult to discern fact from fiction.

 After unprotected sex, it is important to visit a clinic.  Underlying STDs can internally damage body systems, and signs may not be visible immediately after infection.

”I just tell [teens] to not let their fear of what they’ve done get in the way of taking care of their health,” Johnson said. “The long term effects of an untreated infection can be sterility and the inability to be able to have a baby at some later date.”

Dr. Marquis Nuby, a general pediatrician of 27 years, offers pediatricians as an alternative source to turn to when looking for sexual health resources. 

“Since there’s not a lot that’s going to be taught in school, I think it’s an opportunity to talk with your pediatrician because that person has probably been there for most of their lives,” Nuby said. 

Getting proper medical care can be difficult though, especially for those without insurance. Texas has the highest children’s uninsured rate in the country at about 11%. Without insurance, proper help can turn into a financial strain. In order to prevent unnecessary expenses, use adequate contraceptives and stay educated with reliable advice. 

Teen Pregnancy:

While the national rate of teen pregnancy continues to decline, the Texas teen birth rate is still 46% above the national rate, according to Healthy Futures of Texas. Dr. Johnson talks to local schools, educating kids about growth, development, and menstrual health. The sex education talk comes in middle school, a few years after the maturation talks. Dr. Johnson said she believes only teaching kids simply to not have sex is not fully educating them about what can happen. 

“I don’t think that teaching them to avoid sex at all costs provides them information about how to not get pregnant,” Johnson said. ”All women should just have an awareness of this because it impacts their physical health.”

National teen birth rate: 12.9 Texas teen birth rate: 20.3 (each per 1000 females)

With teens still developing, the effects of pregnancy can be more extreme. According to Nemours Children’s Health, teens are more at risk for premature delivery, anemia, and high blood pressure. Dr. Johnson said the only 100% reliable form of birth control is abstinence, but barrier methods can prevent pregnancy too. 

 ”Condoms are really, really, really important as a barrier,” Johnson said. “Hormonal types of birth control for females are usually about 98-99% effective, but 99% is not 100%. People using that as their primary method of birth control have to be aware of that.”

After having sex, there are indicators to be aware of in case of pregnancy. 

“The lack of the menstrual cycle is probably the biggest predictor of getting pregnant,” Johnson said. ”If they [have] elected to be sexually active, they need to know when their last period was.”

Other symptoms include nausea, strange cravings, fatigue, more emotionality or breast tenderness. Because these symptoms are similar to a menstrual cycle, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between the two.

Dr. Nuby emphasizes the importance of barrier methods, but also the emotional implications of a pregnancy. He said having a child can greatly alter the course of a young person’s life. The struggles involved with being a teen parent, stem from not only emotions, but also financial issues that can be avoided by being safe.

“There’s a big financial responsibility and they do not have the money to do it,” Nuby said. “If you’re on different political aisles, I think one thing that should be able to be agreed upon is that we would like to have fewer unwanted pregnancies.” 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases:

Even if unprotected sex doesn’t lead to a teen pregnancy, STDs can be a side effect. Birth control itself, like the kind that is implanted, is not enough to offset these infections. Dr. Johnson explains that there are misconceptions about how these diseases can be transmitted. 

Texas has a total of 294,055 cases of STDs reported.

— InnerBody

”It’s not just a matter of penile-vaginal penetration,” Johnson said. ”You can also transmit and receive sexual diseases through oral sex, through just fondling and touching.”

STDs can be dangerous because their effects may not be seen right away, lingering and causing long-term issues within the body. 

“You’re looking for symptoms that occur in close proximity. You haven’t been sexually active, but some sexually transmitted diseases may not present for several months or even years,” Johnson said. “Untreated, sexually transmitted diseases, especially the bacterial ones, can disseminate to other organ systems, and so you can become very, very ill.”

Dr. Johnson said that oftentimes, people are reluctant to say that they have been sexually active in fear of consequences, but this will ultimately make their situation worse. 

100,700 people in Texas were living with HIV in 2021.


“They don’t seek treatment because they’re maybe embarrassed or because they know that they weren’t supposed to have sex or don’t want to tell a parent,” Johnson said. “They aren’t aware that maybe persistent vaginal itching or discharge that has a foul smell may be representative of an infection, so they don’t seek treatment.”

The more commonly reported STDs being reported by teens are gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. These infections can cause infertility if left untreated, but they can also be fatal in some cases. 

“Gonorrhea can scar the [fallopian] tube and it can cause infertility in the future,” Nuby said. “Also, it can scar the tubes that lead to what are called ectopic pregnancies. That is a pregnancy that’s in a tube and not in the womb, which can be life threatening, because it can grow and rupture.”

In order to avoid this, Dr. Johnson recommends discussing with the partner beforehand. She suggests asking how many people they have been with, if they have always had protected sex, and how they feel about having protected sex.

“When you’re thinking of being in a more intimate situation, think through all the possible outcomes,” Johnson said.


People should only engage in sex when they have explicit confirmation that the other party is willing to participate. Dr. James Pinkston, a behavioral health counselor, says a red flag in a partner is pushiness to participate in sexual acts. 

“If it seems like that every conversation you have with someone you know they’re just directing it towards sex, that’s definitely a red flag,” Pinkston said.  “Another one is someone who keeps pushing for more than what you’ve kind of consented to.”

In order to make sure consent is always mutual, partners should continue to communicate and check on each other the entire time. 

“You always, 100% of the time, can say, ‘No I don’t want to do this. I feel uncomfortable with this,’” Dr. Johnson said. ”Then your partner has to stop.”

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Raksha Jayakumar
Raksha Jayakumar, Managing Editor
Raksha (she/her) is excited for her second year on staff as Managing Editor! She is a huge swiftie, meaning she has good taste (reputation is top-tier). She loves everybody on staff and is super duper excited to work with them all. <3 
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Felix Oien (he/him) is a first year staffer and a designer for the Marquee. He adores hamsters, magical girls, and the color pink. When he’s not procrastinating something, he plays the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV. (He also has really cool tboy swag.)

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