and she will wake up with babies

07Sep08

THIS.

My faith in the youth of America was redeemed the other afternoon. I took my lunch break at a sandwich shop staffed by three young African-American men. The restaurant’s television was tuned to CNN and coverage of the Republican National Convention. I figured the TV was only on CNN for purposes of background noise and that the staff was completely ambivalent to its contents.

Much to my delight, however, they seemed to be actively interested in the news. Following a clip of a discussion on Sarah Palin’s merits and qualities (including comments on her family situation), the guys in the shop gave laughs of incredulity and one of them posed the question to the general audience of the customers: “How’s she going to tell us how we should raise our families when she can’t even raise her own? If she would have been acting like the parent she wants the rest of the country to be, maybe her own daughter wouldn’t be pregnant!”

Needless to say, I was wonderfully surprised and encouraged by the guys’ comments. (I’m also wonderfully surprised and encouraged to see the ubiquitousness of Obama bumper stickers on Tennesseans’ cars.)

It just always amazes me that people really do think that abstinence-only sex education works. I understand the concern behind teaching it: in a perfect society, kids wouldn’t have sex until they were married and/or prepared (financially, emotionally, physically) to bear the responsibilities of parenthood. Unfortunately, for most of us, we do not live in a perfect society, and while maybe that’s the way it should be, that is certainly not how the world actually operates.

I understand the concern behind teaching responsible sex education, also: If we teach them how to do it, kids undoubtedly will.

But I think it works in both ways. Whether we teach kids how to be sexually responsible, or whether we teach kids to abstain from sexual activity until they are married, some, if not most kids are still going to have sex, or at the very least, they’re going to experiment.

Why not give them access to the knowledge they need to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease? Why not explain, at the same time, that sex shouldn’t be had willy-nilly, and that abstaining from sex is a very mature and responsible decision? But, should a kid choose to have sex, as increasingly, many are doing, why not provide them with access to contraception and information?

It kills me that, in general, the same people who are ardently pro-life, are also the same people who insist on teaching abstinence-only sex education. I’m by no means in favor of more abortions. What I am highly in favor of, however, is preventing the need to have an abortion in the first place – by teaching people how to protect themselves from an unwanted or unexpected pregnancy.

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2 Responses to “and she will wake up with babies”

  1. Although the abstinence movement hasn’t really made an impact on my side of the Atlantic (thankfully), having gone to a Catholic school I feel as if I come at this from a similar viewpoint. Living in a country where state schools are either Catholic or non-denominational, we find ourselves in the ludicrous situation where two-thirds of schoolkids are getting relatively sensible sex education and the other third get the “ignore it and it will go away” approach. Not even abstinence!

    Last week, a cervical cancer vaccination programme was rolled out in schools across Scotland, but only after a deal was brokered with the Catholic Church which would allow them to administer the vaccine to girls without providing them with information about how else to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. It makes my blood boil.

  2. 2 whippy

    It has been like a month… are you going to write anything new? Tell us a story…


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