Making America’s (Sexual Education) Great Again


by Randall S. Frederick

It’s a well known fact that the state of sexual education in America rivals that of a third world country. While the Netherlands have been using comprehensive education on sex, sexuality, and gender as early as kindergarten, America slowly but steadily keeps getting left behind.

Ryan Nickum, writing for Estately Blog, summarized 12 years of Google searches recently. Notice how often searches about sexual issues come up.

Using Google Autocomplete we compiled hundreds of the most common questions Americans type into the Google search bar. We ran those searches through Google Trends to determine which state queried each of these selected searches the most over the past 12 years. To be clear, the list below does not represent what each state Googles the most, it simply shows the searches each state Googles more frequently than the other 49 states and the District of Columbia.

  • ALABAMA:  Who is Jesus? / Who owns FOX News? / Who is Lucifer? / Is Donald Trump married? / How to vote?
  • ALASKA:  How to smoke salmon?
  • ARIZONA:  Who vetoes bills? / What is hominy? / What is the minimum wage? / Why is my computer so slow?
  • ARKANSAS:  Where is Syria? / Who won the Civil War? / What is zika? / When is Veteran’s Day? / Is Adele married? / Is God real? / Is Pluto a planet? / How to vote on The Voice? / Why did the chicken cross the road?
  • CALIFORNIA:  What is sexism? / What is Jello? / What is a mullet? / What is spirituality / What is anarchy? / Where is Iraq? / Is O.J. guilty? / How to get divorced? / Who owns MSNBC? / Who qualifies for Medicare? / What is nihilism? / Am I asexual? / How to become an accountant? / Where does bacon come from? / When is Burning Man? / When is Coachella? / When is kitten season? / Is a coconut a nut? / Is Bran the Three-Eyed Raven? / Is coffee bad for you? / Does bread make you fat? / Is honey vegan? / Is Bernie Sanders vegan? / Is karma real? / Is Uber safe? / Where is the nearest Starbucks? / Why are people racist? / Do jellyfish have brains?
  • COLORADO:  What is fracking? / What is hash? / What is paleo? / Who is Edward Snowden? / Where is Waldo? / What is dry ice?
  • CONNECTICUT:  Will Trump win? / What is the American dream? / How to be pretty?
  • DELAWARE:  Who run the world? / How to get away with murder? / Who is Young Metro?
  • DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  When is Ramadan? / Where is Obama today?
  • FLORIDA: Where is Israel? / Who owns CNN? / What is A.A.? / Is adultery illegal? / Where is Siri? / What is quantum physics? / Are UFOs real? / When is high tide? / When is Opposite Day? / Is Kasumi a synth? / Is magic real? / Which Disney princess am I? / Why are Americans so stupid? / How to be famous? / How to be rich? / Why does everyone hate Florida?
  • GEORGIA:  Who created God? / Who is in the Illuminati? / What is calamari? / What is adultery? / What is ovulation? / Who is going to be the next president? / Was Jesus black? / Who is Allah? / Is DMX dead? / Is Jesus real? / Is Vietnam communist? / How to hack an Instagram account? / How to improve credit score? / How to hotwire a car / Where is weed legal? / When is a woman most fertile? / Why are my nipples so sore? / How to be a man? / How to become a stripper? / Is Africa a country?
  • HAWAII:  What is foie gras? / What is Instagram? / How to write a resume? / How to YouTube? / What is the meaning of life?
  • IDAHO:  Is Ted Cruz the Zodiak Killer? / How to be single? / What is federalism? / What does “Netflix and chill” mean? / Is Netflix down? / How to meditate? / What is the electoral college?
  • ILLINOIS:  What does OPP mean? / Is Trump winning? / What is falafel? / What is pâté? / What is NATO? / Was Jesus real? / Is Bill Cosby guilty? / Is JoJo engaged? / Was Hitler elected? / Why are TSA lines so long? / How to jump a car?
  • INDIANA:  What is presidential? / What is Islam? / What is Judaism? / How many states are there? / What is communism? / What is Jupiter made of? / What is natural selection? / What is satire? / Do midgets have night vision? / Are aliens real? / Is Bigfoot real? / Is global warming real? / Is Bernie Sanders a democrat? / Was Clinton impeached? / What is the constitution? / What is the first amendment? / What is the second amendment? / How to be popular?
  • IOWA:  Where is ISIS? / Who is Bernie Sanders? / What is a caucus? / What is a socialist? / What is socialism? / What is Snapchat? / Is Lady Gaga married? / Is Ted Cruz hispanic? / Do penguins have knees?
  • KANSAS:  What is Syria? / How to make meth?
  • KENTUCKY:  What are jorts? / How to pass a drug test? / What is catfishing? / How to make a baby? / What is hemp? / Who is Siri? / Which side is your appendix on?
  • LOUISIANA:  What is Scientology? / When is hurricane season? / When is Wrestlemania?
  • MAINE: Who won Survivor? / What is a blue moon? / How to knit? / Is Bernie Sanders Jewish?
  • MARYLAND:  Did O.J. do it? / Is Joe Flacco elite? / Who unfollowed me? / Who runs the world? / When is it going to snow? / Why do I owe taxes?
  • MASSACHUSETTS:  Who’s on first? / Can I kick it? (Yes, you can) / When is Columbus Day? / How to negotiate? / How many beers in a keg? / Where have all the cowboys gone?
  • MICHIGAN:  Is Trump presidential? / What’s the weather today? / Who is Ron Paul / What causes depression / Where is Canada? / How much caffeine is too much? / Who is Muhammad? / When is Lent? / Is Mr. T dead? / How to be a good girlfriend?
  • MINNESOTA:  Is funner a word?
  • MISSISSIPPI:  Am I pregnant? / Who am I?  /  Can I get a what what? / Is Obama the antichrist? / Who is Prince? / Is Prince dead? / Who killed Tupac? / What is love? / What is Common Core? / What is gout? / What is HPV? / Are mermaids real? / Who is Harriet Tubman? / How to lose belly fat? / How to lower blood pressure? / How to make money? / Where is Rihanna from?
  • MISSOURI:  Who has played Batman? / When is tornado season? / Am I a psycho?
  • MONTANA:  How to move to Canada? / What is corned beef? / What is Gluten? / Is Bernie Sanders out?
  • NEBRASKA:  Who owns Budweiser? / When is Arbor Day? / What is Tinder?
  • NEVADA:  Who invented pizza? / What is asexual? / When is spring break? / Is Reddit down? / Where is Area 51? / What is Burning Man?
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE:  Who Framed Roger Rabbit? / Who should I vote for? / Is Bernie Sanders married?
  • NEW JERSEY:  Who is Hillary Clinton? / How to stop Trump? / How to make friends? / Is time travel possible? / When is iPhone 7 release date? / Is weed bad for you?
  • NEW MEXICO:  Where is Mars? / Why is the sky blue? / How to be emo? / Do dogs dream?
  • NEW YORK:  Am I bisexual? / Am I an alcoholic? / Am I a democrat? / Where my dogs at? / Is Cornell an Ivy League school? / What’s a millennial? / Who killed Biggie? / Who to invade next? / Who unfriended me? / How to meet women? / Who is Banksy? / When is Passover? / Is Mercury in retrograde? / Is wine gluten free? / How to ask for a raise? / Is Hillary Clinton left handed? / Is Bernie Sanders a communist?
  • NORTH CAROLINA:  Who is the antichrist? / Who built the Great Wall of China? / What is Buddhism? / What is Hinduism? / What is religion? / What is dabbing? / Is Kodi legal? / How to open a jar? / Is Donald Trump the antichrist?
  • NORTH DAKOTA:  When is NFL Draft? / How to get a passport?
  • OHIO: What is feminism? / What is the best dog food? /  Is pot legal? / Am I a republican? / Do I have to pay taxes? / Was Jesus white? / Will North Korea attack?
  • OKLAHOMA:  Is Obama muslim? / Why do dogs eat grass? / Why are gas prices so low?
  • OREGON:  Should I move to Portland? / Who is Ammon Bundy?
  • PENNSYLVANIA:  Am I gay? / Is Bill Cosby a rapist? / When is X-Files? / What is vaping? / How to write a check? / Why are people gay? / What is Grindr? / Is Hillary Clinton going to win? / Why is my period late? / Why can’t I poop? / Do cats fart?
  • RHODE ISLAND:  Did Jay-Z cheat on Beyonce? / Is John Snow alive?
  • SOUTH CAROLINA:  What is transgender? / What is capitalism? / What is mercantilism? / What is OCD? / What is satire? / What is foreshadowing? / Is Google making us stupid? / Is he cheating? / Is Jesus God? / Is weed legal? / How to hack someone’s Facebook? / Where is my phone?
  • SOUTH DAKOTA:  Who let the dogs out? / Who killed JFK? / How to tie a tie? / How to use Snapchat? / Why is my poop green?
  • TENNESSEE:  Who killed Superman? / Who or whom? / Where do babies come from? / What is popcorn lung? / Is vaping safe? / Are unicorns real? / What is the clap? / What is the hottest pepper?
  • TEXAS:  Am I a lesbian?  / Am I cool? / Am I a sociopath? / How does sex work? / Who is the best rapper? /  Who named Pluto? / Who qualifies for medicaid? / Who was the best president? / Do I have herpes? / How to meet men? / What is gun control? / Where is the internet? / What is jock itch? / Where is hell? / Where is heaven? / Why do I sweat? / Where is Johnny Manziel? / When is flu season? / When is Jesus coming? / Is Russia in Asia? / Can I vote? / How to yodel? / Which Pokemon are you? / Why are people so mean? / Why are we here? / How to get rich quick? / How to be the man? / Who is Putin? / Why is my hair falling out? / Why is my tongue yellow? / Why is my tongue white? / Do girls poop? / Do zombies exist?
  • UTAH:   How many ounces in a pound? / Who moved my cheese? / What should I make for dinner? / What is my IP? / What is Pinterest? / What is quinoa? / How much wood would a woodchuck chuck? / What about Bob? / When is National Pancake Day? / How to kiss? / How to network? / How to pick a lock? / How to register to vote? / Which states are winner take all?
  • VERMONT:  Where is my mind? / How to write a cover letter?
  • VIRGINIA:  Why is Virginia for lovers? / What is emo?
  • WASHINGTON:   Who buys gift cards? / How many grams in an ounce? / What is Spam? / What is dim sum? / What is kombucha? / What is Reddit? / Is Comcast down? / Is Breaking Bad over? / Will Bernie win? / Can Bernie win? / Is Ted Cruz Canadian? / How can I help Syrian refugees?
  • WEST VIRGINIA: Are zombies real? / Who invented the internet? / Who died? / Who is Donald Trump? / How to lose weight? / What is normal? / What is pansexual? / When is Cinco de Mayo? / Is Facebook down? / How to last longer in bed? / Where is Chuck Norris? / Why is there a leap day? / Why are cats afraid of cucumbers?
  • WISCONSIN:  Who are the Koch brothers? / How to join ISIS? / When is American Idol on? / Is coffee good for you?
  • WYOMING:  What is Wyoming?

Take notice of what Nickum says – these are not the most frequent searches overall; they are the most frequent when compared against the other 49 states. This limits the data set somewhat to America and comparative values, not individualized total values. There are also no use of demographics like age, gender, income, localization, or time/context such as whether a public speaker was on tour at a particular school or whether there is a spike in data for, say, the release of a movie like Fifty Shades of Grey. The data’s value, then, is more or less an insight to culture in America, broadly, and an indictment of where there remain gaps in our understanding of basic, fundamental topics in sexuality like pregnancy, specifically.

There is clearly a lot of confusion about sexuality and something is severely lacking in our public education programs where individuals routinely ask whether they are gay. There is something missing in the cultural values of a region when Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Georgia still have questions about whether an individual is pregnant, how it happens, and when they are fertile. There is an inflation perhaps of gendered stereotypes, when so many individuals have to anonymously ask “Am I a man?” or “Am I gay?” and “Why are people gay?” (Pennsylvania).

I did a little sailing around Google Trends myself and what I found confirmed data I’ve been monitoring on this site. For example, a search of both “sex” and “sex education” showed me a large density of searches in South and Southeast Asia (Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Ghana, Myanmar [Burma], Bangladesh, Nepal, Cambodia) and the Philippines). Many of my readers are from those countries. Nickum’s search indicates that America evidences the same degree of interest in educational materials on the same degree of topics about sex, sexuality, and gender that countries known for their prohibitive position on sexual educational materials are known for. People are highly motivated to seek out information, which is good. But “making America great again” is more than creating manufacturing jobs (which South and Southeast Asia have). Making America Great Again also means that we confront ignorance and create a intellectual wealth, invest in individual health, and promote access to sexual education.

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Further Reading:

You Won’t Believe the Questions, by Ryan Nickum

Swedish Sex Education Has Time for Games and Mature Debate, by Sally Weale

The Case for Starting Sex Education in Kindergarten, by Saskia de Melker

Wake Up and Smell the Condoms, by Kelly J. Bell

List of Current Members of the U.S. Congress



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