Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kissing Will Make Babies...But Only In Utah!

The abstinance-only crowd is having a field day in Utah. Good for upright religionists. Bad for normal teenagers.

"You know all about those things, don't you? We don't have to tell you, do we?" My parents assumed that I informed about sex through the usual teenage osmosis. Needless to say, I had all the misconceptions you could think of as well as all of the guilt associated with daring to think about the subject.

In an age of more sexually transmitted diseases than ever before, and questions about sexual orientation up the wazoo, comprehensive sex education is absolutely necessary.

Tell that to Utah.
A bill passed by Republicans in the Utah House of Representatives would effectively ban comprehensive education about human sexuality, forcing schools to teach abstinence or nothing at all...The bill forbids advocating for "the use of contraceptive methods or devices," sex outside marriage or homosexuality. It also restricts teaching about sexual intercourse or erotic behavior.
Public and charter schools would have the option of developing an abstinence-only curriculum or skipping the discussion of sexuality altogether.
Taking a cue from presidential candidate Rick's Santorum's stance on all things sexual, Utah is indeed looking backward to the good ole days of "don't ask, don't tell." Not in the military, but in the classroom: if students doesn't ask about sex, then the teacher certainly won't tell them.

Back To The Playground

It's a known fact that when you tell teenagers not to do something they will do it. They have no fear of the "great unknown." That is what makes them foolhardy and courageous at the same time. They also feel that they are invincible and immune to things like HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, the "virginity pledge" touted by most of the Christian Right resulted in more unprotected sex and greater risk of infection and pregnancy.* 

And abstinence only programs have been the country's biggest (and most expensive) joke on the American tax payer: the ineffective programs cost $208 million in 2008 (up 300% from 2000 - the result of George Bush's faith-based prerogatives. Yet Rick Santorum and his anti-contraception group would have us believe that they do: on Jan. 25th, Santorum knocked the Obama administration for defunding abstinence only programs stating that "He [Obama] wants people to live in poverty." He did not properly relay how he came to this skewed reasoning. 

So now it may be back to the playground for Utah kids in terms of sex education:
"We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest," Wright said in defense of the bill. "Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?" [Utah state representative William Wright]

Devastating? So are STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Someone should tell Rep Bill Wright, the originator of the Bill, that there is a difference between being "intellectually honest" and intellectually deficient: and he is definitely the latter.

*In recent studies, the "virginity pledge" was found to have no effect whatsoever on teens and their sexual habits. Most teens have taken the "pledge" to appease their parents, and have had sex at the approximately same age and with the same number of sex partners. However, these studies also point out that teens taking the pledge were less likely to use any protection or contraception.   

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