Abstinence-Only Education Making a Comeback?
Here's a way to save time debating women's health. Rather than allow people to fight and debate the issues around birth control and access to healthcare, simply don't tell them key facts about contraception and sexual health. That way, rather than fighting, kids will be blissfully ignorant. Or, you know, rely on the wisdom of my sister's best friend's cousin who says you definitely can't get pregnant if it's a full moon.
Legislatures in both Wisconsin and Utah have passed abstinence-only education bills. It's now up to governors in both states to determine whether or not to make the measures law.
Utah's proposal is significantly more stringent. It would actually ban schools from teaching about contraceptives—and, for that matter, homosexuality. The Deseret News reports that hundreds of protesters have flooded the capitol, asking Governor Gary Herbert to veto the bill. The governor has said the public efforts against the measure won't sway him; according to the News, a survey at Brigham Young University showed 58 percent of Utah residents believe contraceptives should be part of the curriculum in sexual education. Herbert is expected to decide on the bill next week. In the meantime, parents may want to stock up some Judy Blume books.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker is already a fan of the measure, and is expected to sign it into law. The Green Bay Gazette explains that the bill, passed 60-34 in the GOP-dominated House this week, would require schools "to teach abstinence as the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases." Abstinence-only education has been banned since 2010, but if this measure passes, schools won't have to mention contraception, though according to the Huffington Post, they do have to get into "the socioeconomic benefits of marriage" (Presumably LGBT kids can sit out that day, since the party isn't big on letting them get married).
Last year, the New York Times Magazine featured a fascinating story on what would happen if we actually taught children sex-positive education, dealing with questions not only about sexual health but also about sexual pleasure. The article made a key point—that many of today's adolescents rely on internet pornography for much of their knowledge around sex. Kids get exposed to sex at younger and younger ages. Regardless of one's opinions on that, it's disturbing that those same kids will lose potential adult mentors who could have offered accurate information to counter the many falsehoods that come, either from the porn industry or simply talking in the school bathroom.
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