Pittsburgh Public Schools Consider “Abstinence-Plus”


Pittsburgh
Public schools have proposed amending their "abstinence-only" program
, changing it to something called "abstinence-plus."
They’ll continue to stress abstinence as the only way to avoid STIs
and pregnancy, and although they’ll be included in the curriculum,
contraceptives still won’t be distributed.

When
I was in high school, in rural Pennsylvania, I ran for class president
on a platform of bringing free condoms to the nurse’s office. I had
no idea that many considered this a radical idea, and that among those was my school’s principal. After handing in my speech
for approval, I was immediately called to the principal’s office.
She said that I knew what I did wrong. I had no idea what I’d done
wrong. This dialogue ate up the next five minutes. I was then given
a pen and paper and asked to rewrite my speech. She laughed when I brought
up the First Amendment. The principal left the room, only to come back
every half hour to check if I’d changed the speech.

I
was outraged, of course, like any liberal high school kid who just figured
out his political ideology in a mostly conservative school. I was stubborn,
and sat in the office for hours, missing class, until it was time to
go home.  Later that night the principal called my house. She told
my parents what I was trying to do; I’d struck on something personal,
apparently. My parents’ response was a variation of "So what?"
You could hear her grinding her teeth on the other end of the line.

I
ended up losing the election, and it still baffles me that giving out
contraceptives at schools is a controversy. It’s common sense. The
objections of critics – that comprehensive sex-ed will cause irresponsible
behaviors
or contraceptives will encourage sex are flat out wrong. It also seems that abstinence
pledges don’t work
and result in unsafe behavior. Teens are having sex, and rates of sexual activity among teens
aren’t likely to fall any farther
. If teens have difficulty obtaining contraceptives
- either out of embarrassment because of the lax sex education programs
that make them think sex should be hidden and shameful, or because of
lack of access, they resort to dangerous sexual behaviors.

The
best option is giving out contraceptives in our schools. If the political
dialogue concerning abortion is going to shift towards reducing the number of abortions
, it seems like a no-brainer that we change
our schools’ backward sex-ed policies.

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