I sent this in to the “Letters to the Editor” section of the newspaper. It was not published. This shocks you, yes?
Recently, my son, a high school sophomore, had a two-week health class segment on sex education. My husband and I value open and honest conversations with our son, and we were all for him taking the class. Throughout the class, our son came home with stories of what they “learned.” Are they really just now learning this stuff in high school? In addition to instruction from their regular teacher, students received information from a visiting professional. I have a few issues with the curriculum:
- Students were presented with the Abstinence Education curriculum. While it would be wonderful if teenagers followed their parents’ and teachers’ advice on sexuality and a host of other things, they simply don’t. The teen years are a time of rebellion for most people. This means they are more likely to do the opposite of what anyone in authority tells them. If we just told teenagers what to do, and they actually did it, all of the authors of parenting advice books would be starving to death. Did the creators of Abstinence Education maybe have some sort of amnesia about their own teen years?
- The students were given a brochure about condoms that stated that condoms were ineffective protection against STI’s. While condoms cannot protect anyone from all STI’s 100% of the time, it is still better to use condoms than not use them. A brochure like this, filled with dated information, may cause students to forgo condoms. Why bother buying them if they don’t really work, right? The brochure does not differentiate between the types of condoms. Lambskin condoms do not offer adequate protection against STI’s, while latex, polyisoprene, and polyurethane offer better protection. Lumping studies of “condoms” together, without specifying the material, skews the results. One can access information on the different types of condoms from a simple Google search, which teens are much more likely to do than read a dated brochure.
- The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, publisher of the brochure, is a known conservative organization (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Medical_Institute_for_Sexual_Health). One advisory board member is known for recommending prayer as a cure for premenstrual syndrome. If we could pray away medical problems, there would not be any.
- The methods used to demonstrate sexual activity and disease transmission were just gross. For example, after being told that condoms “can cut your chance of getting herpes by about 30%” because herpes can be contracted from any skin contact, students were asked to put tape on their arms and then rip it off of their skin, taking skin cells, oil and hair with it. Then, they were asked to put the tape on the skin of a few other students to symbolize having sex. This was supposed to “prove” that having sexual partners before marriage will prevent you from forming a cohesive (because the tape became less sticky) bond with the person you marry. Aside from the hasty generalization involved with that argument, the students could have been exchanging skin diseases via tape.
Columbus was recently named the most intelligent city in America. While I would love to believe this, I’m not seeing this in the sex education curriculum. Abstinence education simply does not work. States who use this program actually have higher teen pregnancy rates. This information can also be found with a Google search. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3194801/ )