Watching A Dream Come True, for REAL!


Tuesday on Capitol Hill Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senator Frank Lautenburg re-introduced the REAL Act, federal legislation that would for the first time in history put federal dollars toward comprehensive sex education.

I was honored to be at the press conference for the introduction of the
bill; it’s was like watching a dream I’ve had for a long time almost
come true. I have a long history with abstinence-only-until-marriage
programs, starting when I was fifteen in Lubbock, Texas. I’ve now spent
eight years (more than 1/3 of my life!) as an advocate for
comprehensive sex education because I’ve seen my generation lost to
programs that put ideology before our health – and I don’t want it to
happen to the next one.

My school district had a strict abstinence-only-until-marriage policy -
and some of the highest rates of STI’s and unwanted pregnancy in the
nation. Not only did we skip the anatomy portion of biology in
deference to the ab-only policy, our "sex education" didn’t start until
high school – FAR too late to do us much good. During freshman year we
were herded into the auditorium to listen to a lecture from a local
pastor on ‘Love, Sex, and Dating.’

As the culmination of every presentation, the pastor pulled a girl up
onstage, produced a dirty, dingy toothbrush from his pocket and asked
if she would brush her teeth with it. When she invariably said no, he
pulled out another toothbrush, this one in its original box, and
repeated the question. When she said she said yes to that one, he
brandished the rejected toothbrush above his head and announced to the
audience, "If you have sex before marriage, you are the dirty
toothbrush."

While this sounds extreme (and bizarre), abstinence-only-until-marriage
programs commonly use degrading scare tactics like these, provide
misinformation about condoms and contraceptions, forward
generalizations about sexuality that are based on biases about gender
and sexual orientation, and, as in my high school, contain religious
messaging that violates the U.S. Constitution.

This year is the year to rid our schools of these programs and provide
young people with medically accurate, age-appropriate comprehensive sex
education that will equip them with the tools to make responsible
decisions about sex and relationships throughout their lives. The REAL
Act would do just that – send a letter to your representatives asking them to support the bill. (May I suggest donating your Facebook status to this link and tweeting and re-tweeting it, too?!)

This can be the year of youth – fitting after an election that
mobilized a generation and elected a president that recognizes young
people as assets to society who deserve more than junk science and
ideology. Enough is enough – it’s time for REAL sex education in
America’s schools.

This post was first published at Amplify.

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  • invalid-0

    Shelby, thank you for giving an important voice for young people. I’m so sorry that people from my generation and other generations younger and older than mine have not been persistent enough in making sure our young people weren’t fully educated on such crucial matters.
    …I certainly hope we can make the needed changes while we have the chance. Now that we’ve emerged from the Dark Ages of the last administration and have adjusted to the light, we all need to get to work. I’ve sent the link you provided and have recommended this website to others.
    …Keep up the good work.

  • invalid-0

    I regret sex education not being available to me in the 1950′s….And a parent’s permission should not be required…Some parents aren’t smart enought to know their child may indeed want this knowledge to navigate life .

  • invalid-0

    The state in words speaking about necessity of protection of family values and moral education of young generation has opened road to numerous western programs of sexual education of children at school, before introduced among children and teenagers illegally, or unknown to parents, OR BY THEIR DECEIT And CONCEALMENT of the BEING of EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS And PROGRAMS of PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE of HEALTH.

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    thanks so much for this article! that’s a very good news and great step forward in our society

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