Back to School: Let’s Talk About Sex

When I was 12, a guest speaker presented on the merits of flavored condoms to an auditorium full of giggly 7th through 12th graders. I recall him saying his personal favorite was grape.

It wasn’t all fun and flavors though–as one of the lucky kids who received comprehensive sex ed, I actually learned how to have sex and be protected. But a huge swath of the country gets the short shrift.

 Thanks to religious fundies and the Bush legacy, abstinence-only education has increased, and so has the teen pregnancy rate. Abstinence ed has been an excellent sex in convincing students there’s no point in using condoms–while they’re having sex just as much as ever. Oops.
 
Looking around, I always wonder what people know about sex. How many people had been told, still believe, that the condom failure rate is 30 percent? Or how about the gender stereotypes abstinence educators love to dish out–like boys have natural urges and girls must be chaste? Does that seem like it prepares people for healthy, safe sexual interactions, in a frat basement, or a bar, or anywhere?
 
Plus, my sex ed was pretty good, you know, for America, but it left a whole lot of questions–ones I didn’t even know to ask back when. So I was intrigued at discovering an adult sex ed programs, Our Whole Lives, a project of the Unitarian Universalists and United Church of Christ. While the program is designed by two religious groups, they chose to keep faith out of their discussion of sexuality–there’s an optional companion book on faith–and since Unitarian Universalism is one of my favorite religions, I’m curious to see just how good their program is. Maybe I’ll be buying a new textbook soon.
 
I’ll leave you with a fairy tale from the abstinence-only curriculum “Choosing the Best.” It goes something like this: knight saves princess from dragon. Princess gets into the same dangerous situation; this time, the damsel in distress offers her savior advice on how to kill the dragon, and does so again when the situation repeats a third time. Though her suggestions work, the knight’s manliness has apparently been undermined, so he goes off and marries a village maiden with no recommendations on how to kill dragons.
“Moral of the story: Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man’s confidence or even turn him away from his princess.”
That’s right, young women: even if you’re about to be eaten by a mythical flying beast, shut up and let the man do his job on his own. You might become a tasty snack, but at least you won’t get dumped. Three jeers for abstinence ed.

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