Friday, January 30, 2004

Good ole Dubya wants to increase funding for abstinence sex education. Way to go. Not.

NPR conducted a very interesting poll on Americans' views on sex education. The majority of Americans do not favor abstinence-only education, although many do favor abstinence-plus programs (encouraging abstinence for school age kids, but also providing sex education). The also present the differing views of what defines abstinence.

I was lucky that my public school system provided a very good sex ed class in 9th grade. We covered physiology, contraception, and issues such as rape (which dispelled a lot of the dark alley, sexy clothing myths). I was given knowledge that helped me make informed decisions. I believe that all children should have a chance to gain this kind of knowledge since they often don't get it at home. I only sort of did. My parents bought me some books which explained intercourse and pregnancy, but they were outdated and pre-HIV and I don't think they got much into the emotional aspects of having a sexual relationship. But they never had any sex talks with me other than my mom telling me she was a "good girl" and waited till marriage and my dad warning me that "all some guys want to do is get you in the sack" which I had already figured out on my own.

Let's face it - some kids are going to have sex no matter what. Out of my 3 closest girlfriends and me, 3 of us started in high school and the 4th in college. None of us were married. Sex education classes provide and excellent opportunity to teach kids how to avoid disease, to learn the symptoms of diseases in case they need to seek a doctor's help, to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and also a chance to get into the emotional issues. They also are and avenue to discuss rape, especially aquaintance rape, which I think is one of the most important topics because it so frequently goes unreported and because the victims are often unsure if they have even been raped.

So, Dubya and the powers that be - think about what you're doing. Do you really want our youth to be given limited information? Or do you want them to learn the facts so they can make choices that are right for them (not the choices you think are right)? After all, those are choices that will affect their lives.

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