2022 Minnesota Adolescent Sexual Health Report

This report details the sexual health of Minnesota’s youth. Teen pregnancy and birth rates decreased from 2019. From 1990 to 2020, the teen pregnancy rate among 15 to 19-year-olds decreased by 77%. The teen birth rate decreased by 75% in that same period. However, despite the improvements, many challenges remain. Sexually transmitted infections continue to increase and are at an all-time high. Disparities by geography and race and ethnicity persist. A recent study by the University of Minnesota found that an overwhelming majority of parents surveyed–across religions, political beliefs, and geography–believe that young people deserve broad, developmentally appropriate, and medically accurate sexuality education in school. In response to the data outlined in this report, the following are recommendations from the University of Minnesota Healthy Youth Development – Prevention Research Center (PRC).

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Recommendations

Adolescent sexual health comprises much more than the absence of pregnancy, early childbearing, or infection. To fully support young people’s health, we need to address their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development, and give them knowledge and skills to navigate their teen years.

Sexual health disparities persist among youth who are LGBTQ, gender diverse, adolescent parents, from rural areas, homeless/runaway, in foster care, juvenile justice settings, and/or from populations of color. Sexuality education and clinical services must adopt an intersectional lens, recognizing that inequality and oppression overlap and depend on one another.  

Fostering young people’s health, including their sexual health, requires addressing social determinants of health including education, employment, income, housing, community safety and vitality, discrimination, family and social supports, and access to quality health care services.

Over 90% of Minnesota parents want public school teachers to teach abstinence AND science-based, comprehensive sexuality education. An overwhelming majority of parents surveyed—across religions, political beliefs, and geography—believe that young people deserve broad, developmentally appropriate, and medically accurate sexuality education in school. 

Families need to be supported in their role as sexuality educators. Honest, accurate and developmentally appropriate information from parents, grandparents, and other adult caregivers is the first step toward raising children who make safe and healthy decisions about sex, sexuality, and relationships.

Adolescents continue to bear a disproportionate burden of STIs. Current resources for STI prevention and treatment are inadequate to address this critical public health issue, and efforts to control the spread of STIs must be prioritized. This includes on-the-ground support for prevention and surveillance programs at the state and local levels, as well as innovations in STI screening and expanded access to treatment.