Is Sex Education…Educating?
What I’ve learned is that many institutions and groups alike seem to make threats and create scare tactics to influence or sway certain legislation for institutional gain. This was really evident several years ago when the Bloomberg administration announced that New York public schools would be required to implement sex education programs.
According to Bloomberg’s administration, this would help improve the lives of blacks and Latinos. The Bloomberg administration went as far to say that sex education would improve the lives of minorities by promoting economic advancement from sex education. Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill, co-director of the Brookings Center on Children and Families, examine effective strategies to promote economic mobility in America. Their book Creating an Opportunity Society says that in teaching comprehensive sex education three things will happen, states,” a family headed by a person whose graduated from high school, works full time, and doesn’t have children out of wedlock will have a 98% chance of escaping poverty(67).” I am not sure where they grabbed that statistic from, but the Mormon Church has begun implementing and utilizing these peoples work in their church since it meets their sound moral and ethical values test.
The steps I have taken to achieve justice for this topic is to advance my education and work towards bringing awareness to others to eventually create legislation to solve this problem. This legislation would attempt to introduce comprehensive sex education for all public schools nationwide but also give the legal guardians an opt-out option where they can decide if their children want to take the course. When entering junior high seventh or eighth grade they’ll be old enough. The Catholic church says children seven and up know what’s right from wrong. This should be beneficial since the times are changing people. In addition seeming more hypersexual than ever before, and technology is so advanced the children and teenagers can look up pornographic material through so many technological outlets. Many may not favor intervention, but when the department of education thinks it is doing something to benefit others and doesn’t do so.
Becoming a successful attorney is one way I hope to influence justice, perhaps even for a short period to pursue a prosecution position. If the education system is still the same in a few years, my goal is to go after the establishment dramatically and legally. The course of action that I would want to take if I am to be prosecutor would prosecute the institutions that refused to teach comprehensive sex education. I would want to take specific actions to see who and what age the children or teenagers are that have been infected with HIV or AIDS. Charges would be brought against the institutions or individuals who have given the young people death sentences and be brought up on 2nd-degree murder or manslaughter. People’s lives are at stake who have yet to actually experience life itself. Young people make hasty decisions that can change their lives forever and in some cases kill them. However, the parents should take some blame and face some responsibility along with the institutions. Especially for the effects of lack of sex educating and for that matter the lack of parenting. No one should be fooled into being told how to live especially when there is a system that is set up not to protect you. Especially when it can lead you down a road of torture and death.
Ayn Rand makes a very good point in her book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideals, she says, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual right cannot claim to be defenders of minorities (44).” There are many underlying factors issues not being spoken about such as murder and death.
Sex education is something we should be teaching to children at an early age. The Guttmacher Institute goal is to provide the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health for all people worldwide. The Guttmacher Institute says their study found that 75% of a teenager between ages 18-19 have never heard about the contraceptive pill, and 41% say they know little or nothing about condoms(1-2). There is an epidemic on our hands and that is improper education on sex. We are supposed to see our families grow up, however, if they continue to die from sexually transmitted diseases then we won’t. The United by States Department of Health and Human Services says in the past few years 71% males who had intercourse between ages 13-19 were with HIV (175).
Taxpayers don’t like paying for things that they shouldn’t have to pay for, yet they spend nearly 10 billion dollars on STD treatments alone, not including HIV or AIDS treatments according to the Laurel Pregnancy Center(1). Like many people when we get sick we hardly realize we’re sick until it’s too late. The Laurel Pregnancy Center says that about 80% of teens who have STD’s show no signs or symptoms. Therefore leaving their partner vulnerable to anything that person has been infected with (1).
The Advocates for Youth point out that there are eight points that must be met to fit the criteria of abstinence-only according to Social Security Act 510 (b) (2):
A) has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity; B) teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children; C) teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems; D) teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity; E) teaches that sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects; F) teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society; G) teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to sexual advances; and H) teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity. These are the requirements that the Social Security Act lays out (1).
This legislation is absolutely intrusive and non-realistic. There are thirty-seven states that require sex education where most schools teach abstinence only while others teach comprehensive sex education where abstinence and contraceptive use are both taught. Twenty-six of them are heavily pushing abstinence-only. Amanda Beadle a journalist from the website thinkprogress.org states that Mississippi has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. They also don’t have sex education programs, but when the schools do teach it, they teach abstinence only. She also goes on to say that New Mexico has the second highest teen pregnancy birth rate in the country and has no specific guidelines about what should be taught in the sex education classes. The University of Washington based in Seattle claimed in their study that 60% of students taught comprehensive sex education are less likely to get pregnant or to get diseases. The study also found that abstinence-only programs can be a deterrent from using contraception. New Hampshire, a state that teaches comprehensive sex education has the lowest birth rate in the county in teenagers.
The United States has the worst teen pregnancy rate of any industrialized country according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The department claims there were 29.4 babies for every 1,000 females between ages 15-19 in 2012(1). There is no evidence that using condoms or teaching them about condoms makes teenagers any more likely to have sex. Humans are already inclined to have sex once they hit puberty, it is just natural to have sex. The “abstinence-only” programs also known as sex education programs seem to be about politics, religion, and federal funding. During the time the legislators passed this legislation, Congress was heavily conservative. The conservatives did not base their eight-point program that defines the abstinence-only program from public health and social science research, it did from its conservative viewpoint according to The Advocates for Youth organization who did the research on History of Federal Abstinence-Only Funding. Simply put, it is a faith-based political and moral mandate that seems to have the same policy since 1982 when this legislation was passed through this year of 2014.
Schools receive federal funding only if they teach abstinence. If they teach any other type of sex education they do not receive funding. According to the research done by the Advocate for Youth organization federal funding has increased exponentially from $50 million to over a $1 billion in total (3). Students are not being taught the truth about the greatest invention of the past two to three thousand years, the condom. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States says, that “condoms ward off syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, AIDS, herpes, hepatitis and many more STD’s.” The CDC also claims, “Condoms are not 100% safe or effective, however, if used properly condoms can save your life and yourself from any sexually transmitted diseases (2).”
When AIDS came knocking on the doorstep of the world it was terrifying and it frightened many who had it and those who that did not have it. There was no cure, no vaccine and there still is none. The mere gruesomeness of the disease forced on the body was the most hideous. The condom doesn’t protect you if you do not use it properly during sex, but if used properly it can be dependable. More than anything condoms protect those in sexual activities.
All schools that teach abstinence say condoms are ineffective in preventing pregnancy which is not true, they teach that condoms are ineffective in preventing diseases which is also not true. Some of the literature out of London and in particular from Trevor Stammers who documents that in the book The Condom Controversy compares condom use to Russian roulette. While treatment has evolved and drugs are keeping many millions alive. According to The Condom Controversy, having unprotected sex just one time can kill you, but using a condom can save your life (35).” Every child in the world should be taught that condoms save lives, it is inconceivable otherwise. Many schools that practice abstinence-only programs should be tried for conspiracy to commit murder. The horror invoked on these young children, the lies they tell children in schools that practice abstinence-only kills them. Those who do not die because of the disease their lives are certainly altered.
The reason I feel the need to tell this story is because it hits home for me. When I was a teenager I had a friend who had sex at the age of fourteen. She had sex with a boy the same age which was consensual. She had been attending school in Olathe, Kansas from kindergarten to the eighth grade and she had told me that her school had practiced teaching abstinence only in sex education. She said when she and other students had asked about practicing safe sex and contraception, the teachers would tell them they were not allowed to talk about it and if they did they would get in trouble. Her health teacher said they could only talk about it in the context of marriage, therefore when you got married there would never be a need to practice safe sex.
Well, she had sex with this boy and went to the hospital because she wasn’t feeling well, apparently, the boy had not mentioned he had been infected with HIV. She assumed he most likely did not know he had it either. She had contacted an attorney and told him she wanted to file a lawsuit against the school and the Olathe, Kansas school district. Her parents were upset and did not want her to file a lawsuit. They felt that if she did their daughter would be shunned and belittled and that their last name would be ruined and what reputation their daughter had would be tarnished.
The attorney had told the parents he did not need their permission to file a lawsuit as long as he had her permission. She later changed schools and began attending Raytown High School where I met her. She was a very attractive girl and found myself very fond of her. We had mathematics and gym together. She was also on the track team, so since she was attractive and athletic I was completely unaware that something was wrong with her. After becoming acquainted with her for a year I had moved away from my father’s house and I was not able to keep in contact I was with her before. Upon, entering our sophomore year I noticed a different look about her, sort of an ill look. In my eyes, she was still very attractive. After a while she confided in me by telling me what had happened to her, I believe she had got tired of me asking why she was so quiet and if she was alright.
I did everything I could possibly do to be the same person towards her and let her know she had a friend who was there for her. I had never met or associated myself with someone or anyone for that matter who had this deadly disease. All in all, I believe I was more afraid of not knowing of the disease than I was of her.
However, I also believe that she felt I isolated her in a way but after a while, I put it behind me and acted somewhat natural with her again. The case going on in the fall for our junior year. She looked perfectly fine until mid-October when I noticed she had stopped coming to school. She had become seriously ill with pneumonia and was not able to return to school. Before the winter break, the principal of Raytown High School made an announcement over the intercom telling teachers to check their e-mails. My Spanish teacher Mrs. David had told us that she passed over the weekend. The principal had said her immune system was so bad especially with her catching pneumonia it weakened her system. I had thought it took ten to twenty years for that disease to kill you like that. I was feeling very disturbed and was in disarray for what happened to her for a while. I felt betrayed, not angry at God, but at the world. The United States has all the money in the world and yet cannot cure this disease. Out of respect for my friend I chose not to use her name or the name of her parents.
Comprehensive sex education includes skills, attitude and the know-how about one’s sexuality, but its effectiveness in lowering teen pregnancy is higher because it teaches from those perspectives instead of just preaching celibacy until marriage.
There simply must be an awakening for people everywhere in this country to stand up against this religious and political based legislation. The eight guidelines are simply a way for the government to have some sort of control, which dictates how we all live and how we all die. Knowledge is power and the more we know, the safer, smarter, better, and happier people can all be if people take time to talk to people about what’s important. Many people believe that the responsibility of the schools should just stop at the door and leave it up to the parents or family, however, there seem to be problems with that since many parents never talk to their children about sex or the precautions they need to take once the time comes. We should begin removing our students from schools that refuse to teach the realities of sex and punish those schools that constantly ignore the practical and realistic outcomes of sexual activity.
“A History of Federal Funding for.” Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.
“Clinical Prevention Guidance.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Jan. 2011. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.
“Facts on American Teens’ Sources of Information About Sex.” Facts on American Teens’ Sources of Information About Sex. Guttmacher Institute, 1 Feb. 2012. Web. 04 May 2014.
“For Consumers.” Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 15 Apr. 2014. Web. 05 May 2014.
“Sexually Transmitted Diseases.” Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Laurel Pregnancy Center, 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 05 May 2014.
“Social Security.” Act §510. Social Security Administration, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.
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Beadle, Amanda P. “Teen Pregnancies Highest In States With Abstinence-Only Policies.” Think Progress RSS. N.p., 10 Apr. 2012. Web. 04 May 2014.
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Howell, Marcella, and Marilyn Keefy. “The History of Federal Abstinence-Only Funding.” Advocates for Youth (2007): n. pag. Web. 5 May 2014.
Rand, Ayn. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. NAL/Dutton: n.p., 1986. 44+. Print.
Whitehead, Barbara D. “Failure of Sex Education.” Economic and Political Weekly 42.31 (2007): 3188. Prolifewaco.com. 2007. Web.