(AUDIO) Former Wisconsin School Board President’s Answer to Sex Ed? Ignorance is Best

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. Mark Twain 

On one side of Wisconsin’s school sex education debate are parents and community decision-makers who are very serious about helping young people protect themselves from unintended pregnancy, from sexually transmitted infections, from undiagnosed cancer, and from sexual exploitation and abuse. We know that education is not enough, but that doesn’t excuse advocating ignorance.

On the other side are those who believe that education about sexual health will encourage irresponsible and risky sexual behaviors. They believe this despite all evidence. They repeat it with conviction.

At the Merrill Public Schools Human Growth and Development Advisory Committee meeting last week, former school board President, Joe Fink, advised the committee to cease all sexual health education for a year. Because the new law requires medically accurate age-appropriate sex education or none at all, Mr. Fink proposed that doing nothing would prevent the district “from screwing up.”

You can listen to Mr. Fink speak for himself here:

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A Merrill teacher, Brian Suchocki, explained the risk of doing nothing with a true story: “We had a student who learned about testicular cancer in health class.  He was able to have the proper procedure done so he could lead a healthy life.”

The gap between supporters of sexual health education and the opposing side could not be drawn more clearly. I’ve been working to prevent teen pregnancy for 30 years, and throughout that time, opponents of sex education have believed that sex education encourages teens to engage in promiscuous sex, no matter the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They will believe it forever. But it just ain’t so.

For more information also see our colleague organization’s site, Below The Waist.

  • truth

    Thanks for this post! Joe Fink is obviously a great man – very courageous – to stand up for what is right in school communities that are getter more liberal by the day. Giving out contraceptives will only drive children to have sex sooner than they might otherwise. As far as testicular cancer is concerned, teach the males about regular checks just as you would teach the females to get regular mammograms. The fact that contraceptives gets “thrown” in the mix is not even logical. Furthermore, sex education starts in the home. We don’t want our children exposed to the likes of old men and woman who live perverted sexual lives trying to brainwash our children! Who would want to give a sixth grader a condom anyway? Pedofiles and cougars, pedofiles and cougars – that’s who!

  • lon-newman

    The audio is very revealing (as are “Truth’s” comments). After Mr. Suchocki told about the boy who was able to get health care because he knew how to do a testicular self-exam and he knew what to do when he felt a lump, Mr. Fink says “that’s a noble thought” and then changes the subject to his fear of encouraging people to have sex. Having no compassionate or rational response or any real grasp of what “age appropriate” sex education might be, Mr. Fink regresses to the “If they have information, they’ll have sex!”argument.

    “Truth’s” comments clearly reveal that it is fear, guilt, and political ideology that he or she brings to the debate. Torn between responding with compassion and ridicule, I think I will just point out that “Truth’s” comments, parallel to Mr. Fink’s response to the boy’s story, are unreasonable and not supported by evidence. Past that, “Truth” can cope with those three demons without my help or participation.

  • squirrely-girl

    As far as testicular cancer is concerned, teach the males about regular checks just as you would teach the females to get regular mammograms.

    Mammograms aren’t recommended for most women before the age of 40 – we teach young women to do monthly self-exams instead. In other words, we should be teaching young men and women to touch themselves and become familiar with those organs to know as soon as possible when something “isn’t right.” We don’t need to tell them to put it off until 40 and let somebody else touch them to tell them if their bodies are at risk. People SHOULD be comfortable with their own anatomy. 

    Furthermore, sex education starts in the home.

    I’m pretty sure this is the first thing we’ve ever agreed upon! :) I too believe sex education starts in the home. And most research is pretty clear that parental attitudes about sex and relationships is quite powerful and difficult to “undo” by a couple of sex ed presentation. Quite simply, if you’re raising your child with a strong value system, it’s very unlikely to be thrown out the window the first time an alternative viewpoint is encountered. If a sex ed class at school is all it takes to undo years of parenting and guidance… you have far more issues than just teen sex. Unfortunately, for children and adolescents with caregivers that are just as clueless or promoting inaccurate or biased information, as a society we have to pick up the slack. 

    We don’t want our children exposed to the likes of old men and woman who live perverted sexual lives trying to brainwash our children!

    I would want those types teaching sex education to my child either. This isn’t the point of comprehensive sex ed… it’s to provide information about basic health, anatomy, and safety. You should really consider sitting in on a comprehensive sex ed presentation at a local school before making an opinion.  

    Who would want to give a sixth grader a condom anyway? Pedofiles and cougars, pedofiles and cougars – that’s who!

    Actually, I’m pretty sure those types don’t care if the kid is wearing a condom. While I’m not a fan of sixth graders having sex, I’d prefer those that are use protection. A sexually transmitted infection (particularly the incurable types) isn’t exactly a “learning experience” and shouldn’t be a lifetime consequence for a moment of weakness. Most of these programs aren’t making mass distributions to all students, but rather making those items available to those students who want them (e.g., a bucket o’ condoms in the health center)

     

    Giving out contraceptives will only drive children to have sex sooner than they might otherwise. 

    Just because you get your child a tetanus shot doesn’t mean they run out and step on the first rusty nail they can find. Just because you teach a child gun safety doesn’t mean they’re going to go shoot everything in sight. I believe giving information to students before they engage in an activity is the best way to promote safety when they do start engaging in those activities. You don’t read the sky diving parachute directions after you’ve already jumped do you?

  • squirrely-girl

    I also believe giving factual information to children and adolescents about their bodies encourages them to be more comfortable and confident with regard to bodily autonomy. Treating reproductive anatomy and physiology as some kind of Pandora’s Box only leaves already vulnerable teens more vulnerable to other people giving them misinformation for their own ulterior purposes. 

  • carolyninthecity

    I just made a similar comment on Amanda Marcotte’s article about abortion, but I think it fits here too- the idea that if we make contraception and accurate information available to young people that we will make them desire sex and then become sexual deviants is so illogical it hurts my brain.

     

    When I was in 6th grade, I was…11. I had a boyfriend. In fact I think my friends and I probably “dated” the entire male population of our class that year. I think I held hands once. The point being, the majority of 11 year olds are not interested in having sex. I knew what a condom was. And I knew what to do with it. But, eww, gross. boys, penis, cooties. no thank you.

     

     Once we got to junior high though, all bets were off- I did know a few guys and girls who had sex for the first time that year, and you know what? It wasn’t because the school was actively encouraging it with their condom give-aways and educational videos. In fact, that accuarate information was likely what ensured that those peers of mine took precautions and stayed healthy. The point being, people decide they want to become sexual with other people at different paces. Provide the information, and the kids who need it will use it, and the kids who aren’t quite there yet will just blush and giggle and go on with their days.

  • carolyninthecity

    When you say cougars, are you refering to the slang term for women who like to date younger men? lol, I’m sorry, but why would a woman who has a sexual relationship with someone who is younger then her have any more of an interest in teaching 11-year-olds about condom use then anyone else? I’m not sure a pedofile would have any interest in this either…..Adults don’t want to teach kids about safe sex because they want to have sex with them…you know that right?

     

    let’s not compare sex educators with sexual predators there Truth…kind of offensive.

  • anonymous99

    It is you “Truth” who have been brainwashed.

     

    We don’t want our children exposed to the likes of old men and woman who live perverted sexual lives trying to brainwash our children! Who would want to give a sixth grader a condom anyway? Pedofiles and cougars, pedofiles and cougars – that’s who!”

     

    Wow!  It’s just not possible to reason with someone this out of touch.