Friday, May 19

Guest Blogger - AL of Threading Water

I love her. I found her blog, declared her my twin, and our friendship just blossomed from there. She is full of sass, intelligence, humor, and talent. I hope when I grow up I am just like her. Proud to be her friend and to have her here today. Madrona, Baby!

Oh, and she found these perfect panties for her post. What more could you ask for? -BG


iron hymen

Slogans R US

There’s a new billboard along the freeway near my house: “Teen Pregnancy Hurts – Practice Abstinence.”

That message sums up our government’s official policy on sex education for teens: practice abstinence. It is a single-note message sounded over and over and, just as the Bush energy policy omits any call for conservation efforts, abstinence-only sex education is another hollow bromide in this administration’s War on Reason.

Abstinence-only sex education is not preventing teens from having sex. It is not preventing teen pregnancy. It is not reducing the spread of STD’s. Abstinence-only sex education is a failure.

The latest evidence comes from a Harvard University study that found 52% of young people who signed virginity pledges, had sex within a year. Surprising? Hardly.

The United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the western world, despite the fact that teens here are no more sexually active than their counterparts in Canada, Great Britain or Scandinavia.

Abstinence is a good message for young people. It’s simply insufficient to the task when promoted as the only method of preventing teen pregnancy and safeguarding the health of our young people. In defiance of the facts, the Bush administration continues to practice pathological stupidity, delivering its policies in word bursts that fit billboards and car magnets.

That’s tragic, because in this case the billboard message isn’t instructive as much as it’s prophetic. Abstinence takes practice, and teen pregnancy will hurt.

I know.


  1. I always thought abstinence only education wasn't very realistic to say nothing of insufficient.

    Teenagers are going to be inclined to have sex. That's just natural. That's what teenagers do. That's what I did in my teenage years.

    I wasn't raised UU, but I converted when I was 17. They had a program in place called AYS (About Your Sexuality) that is now called OWL (Our Whole Lives).

    In a nutshell, it is a program of very informative, accurate sex education that begins as early as age 12-13. It can be a little graphic at times, but I am all for making sex not seem shameful or taboo.

    Of the people in my high school RE group, I can safely report that none of the women became pregnant or the men contributed to one.

    Sex education has got to start early. I don't care what Joscelyn Elders said. We do need to inform kids early about masturbation...and lots of other things...before they receive a bunch of misinformation and lies.

  2. Well, and the flip side is that when these *authoritative* folks rely on non-information or spread lies and misinformation they undermine the entire educational efforts with young people.

    No one, even if they are young and impressionable, wants to be LIED to.

  3. it's the whole christian right slant that started with reagan went through bush 1 and has dominated the bush 2 wahtever he calls his presidency. abstinence can surely be taught in conjunction with the real facts- but it is not a realistic program in the cable tv, internet, cell phone age. hell, it wasn't realistic in the horse and buggy days either. the problem is all of the boomers in a fantasy beaver cleaver land who see religion in the same rosy glow. reality is much harsher than the rose colored bubble they live in.

  4. betmo: I was with you until the "boomer" rap. Can't say I agree with that particular assessment.
    #1) Boomers are an incredibly diverse and wide-ranging demographic group. The age span alone ranges from 42-60, and the cultural experiences that shaped each end of this spectrum vary widely. I, myself, fall right in the middle (so there you have my bias), I'm married to someone at the leading edge of the age spectrum, and I have a brother at the lower end of the range. The differences between the three of us in terms of life experiences that still influence our beliefs and degree of social activism is startlingly different considering that we are grouped together as "baby boomers."
    #2) The "abstinence only" education policy is a conservative Republican agenda item being pushed by the current administration. Who's supporting this administration and this regressive sex education policy? Some "boomers," certainly. But what about the parents of teens currently reaping the (dubious) benefits of of abstinence only education? Based on an age definition of "baby boomer," only the very youngest in that category are likely to be parents of 12-17 year olds.

    If the parents of today's teens aren't screaming for a more realistic and comprehensive sex education program in their childrens' schools, who else will?

    You may see an older "beaver cleaver fantasy" face on the people concocting these public policies, but I see a younger neo-con face on the parents who are going along with programs like this.

  5. I read one estimate that 20% of the abortions in this country are done on women claiming to be "born again." I think that's low. My pediatrician says the number one thing his adolescent patients need is good sex education. He is rather conservative and is NOT talking teaching kids how to have sex, just teaching them how their own bodies work.

    Just off the boat, found an internet cafe first stop. Can you tell I miss all of you? xoxo

  6. Anonymous4:20 PM

    BG! BG! BG! BG!

  7. Talking to teens about sex is easy. I have always thought about it as a metaphor. Teaching abstinence is like putting a dog on a leash and hoping it will never break that leash or chew through it to chase the cat. Teaching safe sex, passing out condoms, and saying safe sex with a loving partner is ok is like not putting the dog on the leash and hoping it won’t chase the cat.
    My plan has always been tell kids exactly what can happen if they have sex, but not just pregnancy, tell them about STDs from oral sex, anal sex and vaginal sex. Explain to them that even using a condom does not prevent every form of STD. Explain to them that oral sex still involves the transfer of body fluids and is more dangerous than using a condom. Explain to them that anal sex is more dangerous than the other two forms. And most importantly, don’t just tell them, show them exactly what can happen by putting on an overhead with pictures that show how a STD ravages the body, including all the gross bumps, wounds, and scars it creates and how some make you infertile. To me, this is like putting a cheetah in front of a dog; make the dog too scared too chase the cat. Sure, it is a form of “fear-mongering” but sex can be deadly and kids, and many adults, don’t fully realize the dangers involved in sexual intercourse. How many of us know for certainty which STDs we can and can not get from vaginal sex using a condom? How many of us know what gonorrhea or herpes are other than saying they are a STD?
    The discussion can’t be from a PE Teacher who passes out a book and tells the kids to read it and it can’t be done using many of the words I used here; I don’t think I ever said “vaginal sex” when I was 12-17. It needs to be done on their level and using words that they know, but the result is the same, scare the dog.
    Oh and as a staunch conservative, I don’t see how this concept of telling kids exactly what might happen is in any conflict of religious teachings or would somehow lead to the moral decline o our children. It only hopes to teach children the truth, and it is difficult to make a rational argument against the truth.

  8. Good editorial in today's NYT pointing out the failure of Abstinence Pledges from a strictly Christian perspective. She does not say so directly, but indicates the hubris of human "promises" against sin, recommending, as I read it, that those Christians who want abstinence from their teens need to get real about sexual temptation and support their teenagers through frank discussions and unfailing support even when their charges "stray." That kind of support leads to greater participation not only in abstinence programs, but in the larger community of the church.

    Frankly, I'm more comfortable with Comrade Kevin's UU approach, but if right wing Christians are willing to walk the talk, more power to them.

    Now in Sheraton in Toronto. R.A.I.N. the whole week. But guess what? Mr. Blue Gal is now pointing out articles he thinks I should blog about! Go figure.

  9. If I may continue with the metaphor . . . why not just let the dog loose but make sure the cat has a tree to climb and hasn't been declawed?

    Access to accurate and complete information is just the beginning. What good is the knowledge that there are means to protect oneself against STD's, and methods to deal with an unwanted pregnancy if one can't purchase or obtain the means to do so? Or, if a pharmacist takes it upon him or herself not to dispense a prescribed drug?

    The "abstinence only" approach neatly sideswipes these issues with blinders so thick that even cats and dogs raining from the sky won't mar the view.

    BTW: Welcome back, BG. Look up Yarn Harlot while you're in her town why don'tcha?

  10. Threadingwater, I think of it like this, after Jaws the movie, people were afraid to get into the water. If you scare kids enough, its not that they will never go into the water again, but maybe they might think twice about just hoping in. Most kids, or people between the ages of 12-17, and hell people of any age, just don’t have the maturity or capacity to be having sex. But, before anything they need education and they need the whole story. I am not trying to be “subversive” to my own “side” on this, but teaching alone abstinence alone is ineffective and dangerous because people really don’t know the facts and they don’t have the facts and that’s why STDs spread because people think the only consequence from sex is pregnancy or AIDS, and if they use a condom then they are safe. Telling young people real information about sex is like giving a thirsty man a glass of water.

  11. Anonymous11:05 PM

    ORAL SEX, damn it. We need to teach these kids oral sex techniques.

  12. Thank you for sharing, Doug.

  13. Anonymous11:59 PM

    Teens need sex education, need STD education and need to know. They need to know the result of preganany, especially pregnancy with STD.


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