• sexual-health-enthusiast

    Kudos to Andrew for writing such an important and all encompassing piece about sex education, and the American stance on it…….or pitiful recognition and support of it.  I shared your article on our facebook fan page, and will also put it on our company website and tweet about it.  You are an impressive writer, and understand the situation and communicated it beautifully. Keep up the amazing work Andrew!  

  • cmarie

    I’m pretty sure the typical American parent doesn’t disipline his or her kids with a “morally bankrupt narritive about sex and sexuality” and then punish them for daring to question it.

  • jennifer-starr

    I think the author is referring to the travesty that is abstinence-only sex ‘education’.  I put ‘education’ in quotes, because as far as I can tell abstinence-only doesn’t offer very much at all. Thank goodness I went to school in the ’70s and ’80s and we had comprehensive sex education and a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves in the library. 

  • crowepps

    You could be right, since the typical American parent actually wants their child to receive comprehensive sex education in school, including information about birth control.  Unfortunately, the curriculum is being controlled by the loud screaming hissy-fits of sex-phobic Catholic and Evangelical pressure groups.

  • cmarie

    The author didn’t say there that he was referring to abstinance only sex ed… I think its fair to think he was referring to exactly what he said “Growing up in the United States is like playing a foucauldian game of disipline and punish.  Disiplined by a morally bankrupt narrative about sex and sexuality and then punished for daring to question it.”  Andrew looks pretty young.  I hate to think what part of the country he had to have grown up in and what schools he must have been trapped in to not only have had that experience, but to also honestly believe its typical!  Abstinance only sex ed is basically saying (to cover the very, very unlikely chance that a middle school student doesn’t know) … “Here’s where babies come from so you know…. and here’s why you are better off waiting until you are at least an adult to become sexually active.”  You may disagree with the second part of these lessons but, if they’re coming from a parent you need to show some respect for that parent’s right to raise her own child as you would expect her to respect your right to do the same.  Most parents (including Catholics and Evangelicals) honestly love their kids and are trying to prepare them for adulthood as best they can.  If a parent doesn’t want to advise against early sexual activity then that’s fine.  That parent is also doing their very best to raise their child according to their own value system.  As far as schools are concerned, I know that if parents find a sexual education course to be too graphic or advanced or controversal for their middle school student, they have the right to keep the kid from the classes.  Just don’t sign the permission slip.  Likewise, if you don’t want your middle school student being advised against pre marital (or at least pre mature) sex, you shouldn’t have to allow him into that class.  And as far as I know, you certainly don’t have to.  You should be able to raise your child(ren) according to your own values, without fear that anyone else’s will be pushed on him or her, but others of course have the same right. 

  • freetobe

    why people who decide to take on the HUGE responsiblity of raising a child have never just gone and gotten a good book on the subject of teaching sex to their own children! I just cannot understand it. I remember my mother who was brought up in victorian times trying very hard to explain it to me every time I asked her. Well she and my dad did a damn good job they used humor yes laughing about it worked like a charm. It took all the pressure off both my nervous parents and the ever so curious child me.

    My parents were both catholics and so they also gently tryed to explain to me about why I should not have sex before marriage. That was thier right (big difference from letting the government interfere in personal stuff) I was their child they did what they thought was best.

    However it failed to work for me after i turned 18. As hard as I tryed hormones eventually all took over.( but at least i did wait until I was legal !)

    Do parents forget those raging out of control hormones at puberty are they that forgetful?

    No they are scared or possibly uniformed themselves. It is a real shame and a big problem. Sex is a natural thing that all animals have the desire to do. It is how nature assured survival of the species but somehow being human has made it a no no not natural, evil, only bad girls do it. Stop the shaming and start laughing it is only natural.

  • ack

     If a parent doesn’t want to advise against early sexual activity then that’s fine.  That parent is also doing their very best to raise their child according to their own value system.  As far as schools are concerned, I know that if parents find a sexual education course to be too graphic or advanced or controversal for their middle school student, they have the right to keep the kid from the classes.  Just don’t sign the permission slip.  Likewise, if you don’t want your middle school student being advised against pre marital (or at least pre mature) sex, you shouldn’t have to allow him into that class.  And as far as I know, you certainly don’t have to.  You should be able to raise your child(ren) according to your own values, without fear that anyone else’s will be pushed on him or her, but others of course have the same right. 

    I see this as a clear argument for comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed in every school. School is a place for facts, and students generally trust that their teachers at least know their subject (even if they don’t think they know jack about anything else). Not every parent is equipped with the information or the comfort level to talk about contraception and sex. I would guess that most parents who want their kids to be abstinent until marriage are capable of saying, “Don’t have sex. There are diseases and pregnancy to worry about. It’s a gift for the person you marry.” The parents who don’t want the whole picture explained to their children can opt out. Parents who want their kids to get information about sex and contraception that doesn’t involve fear mongering and rape apology (yes, a lot of the ab-only programs blame girls for getting drunk and someone raping them, or for engaging in consensual activity and then someone raping them) aren’t faced with the responsibility of learning the facts to the level a teacher could present. Problem solved.

  • ack

    Even with books and education, I think a lot of parents are really uncomfortable talking about sex with their kids. Yes, it’s unfortunate. But there are also the “in-betweens.” In high school, my mom repeatedly told me, sometimes rather harshly, to wait until I was married (nevermind I’d already lost my virginity and therefore couldn’t talk to her about contraception and sex after the age of 15 because I thought it would make her mad), only to be fully supportive of my use of birth control after I went to college and was in a committed relationship. I hope that I create the kind of environment in my future kids’ lives that allows them to talk to me, but I’m also pretty sure that I’m going to screw it up. Most parents do. And I’m much more educated about sex and reproductive health than the average person.

     

    Which is precisely why schools should be a place for facts about sex, contraception, and reproductive health, rather than value judgements about virginity and sexual activity. Parents are too often either uneducated or uncomfortable.

     

    (In the interest of full disclosure, a friend of mine and I already designated Auntie X as the go-to-auntie for sex information if our kids are uncomfortable. Because I KNOW I’m going to screw it up.)

  • colleen

    The author clearly states that the subject is abstinence only sex miseducation in the headline. Please stop trolling.

  • crowepps

    “only 10% of the voting public says they want abstinence-only curricula in our schools.”

    What parents want:

    • 95% of parents of junior high school students and 93% of parents of high school students believe that birth control and other methods of preventing pregnancy are appropriate topics for sexuality education programs in schools.
    • 100% of parents of junior high school students and 98% of parents of high school students believe sexually transmitted diseases are an appropriate topic for sexuality education programs in schools.
    • 100% of parents of junior high school students and 99% of parents of high school students believe HIV/AIDS is an appropriate topic for sexuality education programs in schools.
    • 88% of parents of junior high school students and 85% of parents of high school students believe information on how to use and where to get contraceptives is an appropriate topic for sexuality education programs in schools.
    • 83% of parents of junior high school students and 79% of parents of high school students believe information on how to put on a condom is an appropriate topic for sexuality education programs in schools.
    • 99% of parents of junior high school students and 97% of parents of high school students believe the basics of how babies are made, pregnancy, and birth is an appropriate topic for sexuality education programs in schools.
    • 97% of parents of junior high school students and 96% of parents of high school students believe information on how to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases is an appropriate topic for sexuality education programs in schools.

    http://www.ncsse.com/index.cfm?pageId=937

    Certainly parents who do not want their children told the truth have every right to keep them out of these classes.   That 5 to 15% can tell their children “don’t have sex” at home for free.  There’s no need to waste school monies teaching outdated religious ideas like gays are unnatural and women are inferior, created so men could use them to produce sons and have servants, or that it’s appropriate to blame women for being raped.

  • johann7

    On the plus side, Scarleteen has already done a lot of the heavy lifting with respect to formulating how youth-centered, youth-driven comprehensive sexuality education can operate. And it exists. Right now. On the Internet! http://www.scarleteen.com/

    While they don’t necessarily have the resources to pick up the slack from every crappy sex-ed program and/or every parent who can’t/doesn’t know how to address sexuality with one’s child(ren), they do an amazing job with the limited resources they have (I mean truly amazing). Everyone should be aware of them as an inclusive, comprehensive sexuality information and advice resource, and everyone who can afford to do so should donate money to them (at least until we have universal comprehensive sex education in schools).

    To the parents reading/commenting here: I storngly suggest you check out Scarleteen if you’re at all worried that your child(ren)’s school or your own efforts may be failing your child(ren) with respect to sexuality education. They have advice for parents on how to engage with their children, and they have information for children/teens themselves.

  • cmarie

    Colleen, my love, I’m not a troll.  I’ve been here for three years. 

    Parents often worry that public schools want to challenge their authority… the skyrocketing number of homeschooled kids demonstrate how worried many people are about that.  I live in Massachusetts where homeschooling is still fairly uncommon but I know a few people who do it.  I always thought these parents were overreacting but these comments are a powerful arguement that they were right all along.

    1. (ack) “Not every parent is equipped with the information or the comfort level to talk about contraception and sex”.

    2. (freetobe– regarding parents) “They are scared and possibly uninformed themselves”

    3. (ack)  “I’m pretty sure that I’m going to screw it up.  Most parents do.  Parents are often too uneducated or uncomfortable”

    These views on the rights and abilities of parents to raise their own kids are beyond horrible.  I’m starting to see what the homeschoolers are worried about.  And certainly I’m not the only person who would be likely to draw that conclusion from these comments.  Why don’t you just take infants away in the hospital, pop them right into a Stalinist era orphanage and after a few years of indocteration let the parents have government supervised visits with their kids?   According to the above comments the typical parent can hardly be trusted to safely drive their newborn home anyway.  To the above commenters I would say:  “Get yourselves some freaking self esteem!  If you have none your kids will pick up on it!  If you don’t feel “educated” enough to talk with your child about sex or birth control… fu**ing educate yourself!!  No one can teach your child as you can!  No one will ever care about them as much as you and they know that.      “When the government boot is on your throat, whether its a left boot or a right boot doesn’t matter!”  This is true for schools too.  If you hate Catholics and Fundamentalists so much, you should  consider how you would feel if they were running the schools and prepare yourselves as parents to handle the subjects you wouldn’t want them handeling.  Just because you happen to like most of the “sexuality education” programs currently in schools doesn’t mean they can’t change.  Want to protect your children from “scare tactics and fear mongering”?  be prepared to cover the subject of sexuality education yourselves. Poor crowepps honestly believes people who don’t want their “children” sexually active while they are still “children” also are “teaching outdated religious ideas like gays are unnatural and women are inferior, created so men could use them to produce sons and have servants, or that it’s appropriate to blame women for being raped”.  WTF!! What on earth does wanting your child to wait until he/she is eighteen for sex have to do with homophobia?, or believing women inferior? or servents? or rape?? I’m still wondering what state or compound poor Andrew grew up in but Crowtepps childhood neighborhood sounds even worse.  If scarleteen is the place you want to go to to educate yourself… fine.  The important thing is that you educate yourself to guide your child as you as a parent feel is best.  Don’t mindlessly trust anyone else to do it.

     

  • ack

    Oh, please. No one said anything about the ability of parents to raise their children. I was talking about the ability of parents to talk to their kids about sex. Again, this is relatively easy for parents who just want their kids to learn: Save it till marriage. This is one topic that most parents feel uncomfortable talking about with their kids; a recent Planned Parenthood survey showed that only 43% of parents felt comfortable. Combining that with the study crowepps brought up about what parents actually want regarding sex ed, and you’ve got a strong argument for comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed in schools. Additionally, not all parents have the time or the resources to become educated on the topic to the level they want to explain to their kids. You’re assuming all parents have a lot of free time, which is pretty classist.

     

    And yeah, I’m probably going to screw the sex talks up at some point by saying something like, “I’ll tell you when you’re older,” in response to a question that the kid is perfectly capable of getting some information about at that point. I want my kids to have information available to them from a neutral source, a source they can ask open questions of and not feel, even for a second, that the question is going to color their mom’s opinion of them. That’s where schools come in. Again, schools are a place for facts, not value judgements.

     

    Personally, I have a goal: if I don’t know an answer to a question, I’ll respond, “I don’t know. Let’s look that up together.” But that’s not perfect, and it doesn’t necessarily prepare me for the inevitable moments when I’ll be caught off guard. I’ve known sexual health educators that had to revisit a sex question with their kids because they felt they screwed it up the first time. It doesn’t mean they don’t know how to parent, it means that we need to acknowledge that we’re not going to do it right every tim, ESPECIALLY on topics that we’ve been taught are taboo or inappropriate to discuss.

     

    As an aside: I don’t have a problem with “most” of the sex ed programs in schools. I have problems with the ones that place value on virginity as a source of self-worth, and insinuate that if once your virginity is gone, you’re basically a bacteria infected petri dish: http://www.care2.com/causes/drink-the-spit-and-other-abstinence-only-education-lessons-video.html

     

    I have a problem with the ones that actively engage in rape apology, like “Abstinence ‘Till Marriage” in Ohio up until a load of criticism made them change their website. They never acknowledged that their previous material blamed a ficticious teenage girl for soemone raping her while she was drunk.

     

    And you can bet that I’ll be one of those parents reviewing the curriculum and I’ll yank the kid out if it’s ab-only. I’ll find ways to teach comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed, including sending said hypothetical child to the courses Planned Parenthood teaches for students. But if the vast majority of parents WANT their kids to receive that information in schools, why should the ab-only crowd be funded? The resources should be placed in programs that are actually deemed effective by reputable researchers.

     

  • colleen

    No, you have been a periodic troll here for three years. That’s why most of your posts are greyed out and have been since it was possible to do so. But, then, you knew that.

  • colleen

    No, you have been a periodic troll here for three years. That’s why most of your posts are greyed out and have been since it was possible to do so. But, then, you knew that.

  • cmarie

    ack you have a big self esteem issue when it comes to your ability to parent.

    Don’t let anyone tell you they can do it better than you can; not where your kids are concerned.

    Reach out for whatever educational tools you feel you need and have some faith in yourself.