Saturday, May 24, 2008

Apologies and sex

First off, I need to apologize to those in the book discussion group. The last two months have been crazy. And, now crazy in a good way. Since March 21, I have been in and out of the hospital or at a doctor's office every day. If anyone wants to take on the role as co-moderator, please e-mail me. The only criteria is that you've posted here before and I recognize your name.

Now...on to the juicy part of the title. Sex is something we've discussed in this blog before. And, we may have even talked about sex education, but something came up (no pun intended) that makes me want to do another blog on the subject.

I have a reader who wants to remain anonymous and she sent me a copy of the sex education permission slip that her son's school sent home. Her son is a ninth grader (14 years old, I would guess) at a public school in Oklahoma. Here's the text of the permission slip.

  • Dear Parents/Guardians,
  • ********* *********** district high schools will commence a lecture series for students in the Freshman class on May 25, 2008. The students will here from two representatives from local agencies dealing with sexual relations. ******* ****** from ********Crisis Pregnancy Center and Rev. J ******** will discuss the benefits of abstinence and options and services a sexually active couple may seek out if the need arises. A district health educator will spend approximately twenty minutes at 3:00pm giving an overview of birth control options and sexually transmitted disease by a CNP, ****** **** , from Planned Parenthood. We have scheduled as such so that you may remove your child from school a half-hour before regular dismissal if you do not want your child to participate in the discussion of birth control or STDs. This program is in compliance with state law and President Bush's Abstinence Education Program (2003). Please notate by checking the appropriate boxes on your child's permission slip as to which classes you consent to. Sexual education is not a mandatory lecture. Any student not participating will be sent to the library for study hall. Children who will attend the first two lectures, but not the third, are free to leave campus early with a note from their parent or guardian.
  • Sincerely,
  • ************ *****
  • (Principal)

Does anyone else have a problem with this? I know I have several objections. What's up with having a representative from a Crisis Pregnancy Center come in? For those not in the United States, this wiki gives you an overview of what CPCs do. CPCs are always operated by pro-life theists. Always! The goal of these centers is to bring young girls in and make them watch horrific videos of abortion, usually in a room filled with cute pictures of cherubic infants who have been "saved". The emphasis is on finding adoptive parents and encouraging girls to continue the pregnancy. These "centers" are always staffed by volunteers and RARELY, if ever, have a licenced medical practitioner on staff. Yet, the entice these girls to come in with claims of giving them a free test, exam, and counselling. Of course, the following words are never uttered during counselling: "blastocyst", "embryo", and "fetus". The developing organism is always called "the baby". This is manipulative. By convincing a teen aged girl that she's carrying a "baby" creates a powerful feeling of guilt should she desire to end the pregnancy. They usually show a movie called "The Silent Scream" (the link takes you to the actual video). They always give out pamphlets showing aborted fetuses in the second trimester...but, they leave out the fact that the second trimester sample is far different in appearance than the first trimester blastocyst or embryo. In some cases, the material they give out claims that a "baby in the first trimester can feel pain, scream, and cry, during the abortion." Obviously, it's a Christian organization that receives money from Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, several Catholic diocese, and - incredibly- the federal government!! In fact, the Southern Baptist Convention has made it a goal to get ultrasound machines in all CPCs so that the girls can be shown the fetal pole and heartbeat of the embryo. Not only is this a complete mind fuck (sorry about the cussing), but it also appears to provide medical advice and procedures without a license.

According to the reader who sent me this permission slip, the Reverend mentioned in the article as a lecturer, is the leader of a local, vocal pro-life group that frequently stands in front of OG/GYN offices and Planned Parenthood. How, exactly, is a Christian minister qualified to come in and give a lecture on pregnancy and STDs? Where his medical degree? Shoot, I'd settle for a nursing degree or even paramedic training. But, to have a prominent pro lifer come in and bully the kids into seeing abortion (or premarital sex) as a one way ticket to hell is crap!

Why is a publicly funded school setting up this "lecture series"? What happened to the separation of Church and State? Leaving only twenty minutes, at the end, to a REAL nurse from an organization that supports the right to choose is a steaming pile of horse shit.

I realize that George Bush is an abstinence only proponent, but the evidence is clear - abstinence only education does not work. (Side note: I wonder if Jenna was a virgin when she married? Somehow, I doubt it.) It results in more pregnancies than programs wherein birth control is discussed in an open and honest manner. AND, PP doesn't try to cram Jesus and the Bible down your throat while they're explaining how a condom works.

As a mother of a teenager, I know that I have an obligation to tell my daughter about all of her options. That's not to say I condone teenage sex. I condone knowledge and choice. How can you expect children to conceptualize the mental, physical, and emotional consequences of sex if you're just going to stand there and say, "Sex...just don't do it." How is that education? P1 and P2 can name you five forms of birth control on demand. But, they also know that I want them to finish up some of their more time consuming goals before becoming parents. I've also talked to them about the way sex can ruin a relationship if both parties aren't mature enough to handle it. We had an hour long conversation on responsibility, should they choose to have sex in high school, and I've told them that I would rather them come to me and ask for help procuring the pill or condoms without judgement. Sex is natural. It's natural for boys and girls to want to connect physically with the people they're attracted to. It's part of life and I can't understand why anyone would turn it into this ugly, pain inducing, immoral act one year, but then consider it a Christian obligation upon the placing of a ring on a finger. How could these young women and men possibly enjoy sex when they've been taught, all their life, to avoid it or suppress the feelings?

BAH! (*$&)@#$


25 comments:

Maggie Rosethorn said...

Pmomma...right on!!! As a nurse-midwife, my children have known about sex from the time they were very little. "Changing Bodies, Changing Lives" (by the same group who wrote "Our Bodies, Ourselves") was on the open bookshelves, for whenever they wanted to look at it. Both of my kids have trusted me enough to confide in me when they started having sex USING birth control. And now they are young adults, in control of their lives.

(I've been thinking about emailing you re: book group moderation but life has been hectic here. Maybe I'll get to it this weekend)

Cogito said...

It's not you, PMomma! I just love how anyone who wants to skip the PP presenter gets to leave school early. I don't think that's an accident. I also can't tell if there's any option to have your child skip the religious kooks, but attend the PP talk.

I tell you, I'm already steamed knowing that the "character education" in our county includes teaching kids they must wait until marriage to have sex. I think that's monumentally stupid and doesn't reflect my values at all. With Kitty entering Kindergarten, I'm already wondering when this will come up and how I'll deal with it.

I agree with you, Maggie (OT: yay, midwives!) - we have a great book called It's So Amazing that talks very openly and matter of fact-ly about sex, pregnancy, and so on. I love it, and have read it to Kitty since she was three. But sadly, when you look at the Amazon reviews, many people object that the book is "too much" for twelve-year-olds and that it will ruin their innocence. I can't believe people have their heads in the sand that much!

Bing said...

You need to contact the ACLU.

shaun said...

My wife is a post-partum nurse at a large city hospital here in Cleveland, and she has had more than her fair share of 12-year-old mothers. TWELVE-FREAKIN'-YEARS!! I remember thinking girls still had COOTIES at that age! Unbelievable. We need to be able to educate children about ALL aspects of sex, including not having it. I think this should be an all-or-nothing deal: if you stay for the CPC lecture, you MUST stay for the PP lecture, period. The parents can opt their children out of all the lectures if they choose.

Christine said...

Too bad people can't opt out the first parts of the lecture and stay for the last 20 min.

I remember how educational sex ed was in high school. I remember my 9th grade health teacher going, "I can't tell you about birth control, but I may be able to answer your question if you ask me directly." Hooray for Catholic school!

Sex ed is one topic I'm not going to dodge with my Jellybean and any future kidlets I have.

April said...

I'm w/ Christine. I'd object to my daughter being subjected to the first two, and would want her to hear from Planned Parenthood. So disgusting that this kind of thing still takes place in public schools. As a mother of 2 daughters, this is a topic that's incredibly important to me.

Gretchen said...

As a mother of a teenager, I know that I have an obligation to tell my daughter about all of her options.
Do you tell her the option where God calls her to be virginally chaste until her wedding night? That is an option most liberal parents forget so as a result the number of abortions in teen liberals rise. If P1 keeps her baby what will you do to her? Is she free to do that and perserve life by standing accountable to God for the sin.
That's not to say I condone teenage sex. I condone knowledge and choice.
You condone teen sex and don't pretend otherwise because it's clear to me what you will permit. Why would anyone stay pure who don't have God's words or testimony? Have a big Darwin sex festival where you can have sex like animals cause thats all you are teaching them to be. My children will be acting like ladies and gentlemen because they are not animals.
How can you expect children to conceptualize the mental, physical, and emotional consequences of sex if you're just going to stand there and say, "Sex...just don't do it."
Setting a rule is wrong now? As long as a child is in its parents house they should do what parent says. I say no sex until marriage. You tap dance to make them feel good. well life is hard. you have to be willing to do the right thing.

How is that education? P1 and P2 can name you five forms of birth control on demand.
I would never admit this with pride. It is horrible that you don't protect their innocence.

But, they also know that I want them to finish up some of their more time consuming goals before becoming parents. I've also talked to them about the way sex can ruin a relationship if both parties aren't mature enough to handle it. We had an hour long conversation on responsibility, should they choose to have sex in high school, and I've told them that I would rather them come to me and ask for help procuring the pill or condoms without judgement. Sex is natural. It's natural for boys and girls to want to connect physically with the people they're attracted to. It's part of life and I can't understand why anyone would turn it into this ugly, pain inducing, immoral act one year, but then consider it a Christian obligation upon the placing of a ring on a finger. How could these young women and men possibly enjoy sex when they've been taught, all their life, to avoid it or suppress the feelings?
What rubbish.

eyeslikesugar said...

Awful! Everything you said was running through my mind when I read that letter. Planned Parenthood needs 90 if not, 100% of the time there! We need more, accurate sex EDUCATION in schools, and parents (like yourself, bravo to how open you are with your kids!) to accurately teach their kids. Abstenince (the word, butchered horribly) is not the answer. It's stupid to tell kids the obvious and make them promise they will be chaste. Not every kid will, and most won't keep it until marriage. You need to help teach them the very real consequences of sex, and encourage safe sex. There are SO MANY options out there for worried/scared teens and they don't know how to get it; there's even CycleBeads, which track when you're most likely to be fertile or not. It's not just condoms or pills. I wish more teens knew this information. =/

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Gretchen,

You are a fool. When the evidence stares you in the face you chose to resort to a book written 2000 years ago by a group of men who considered women property, when premarital sex was considered sullying the goods. Its your head in the sand attitude that results in unwanted pregnancies and higher abortion rates.

So kindly put you head back where you prefer it.

Joy said...

My high school had an option for parents to sign papers that released their children from the required sex ed class their sophomore year of high school. As a result, I did not receive any sort of education other than the information I sought out from my friends, the internet, etc. at the time. To this day, I feel my conservative christian parents did me a disservice - s sexually developing teenager should have ALL the information they can about safe sex.

John said...

You say:

"It's natural for boys and girls to want to connect physically with the people they're attracted to."

Just a quibble, but it is also natural boys and boys and girls and girls.

It may be rarer, but it is still natural.

Country Wife said...

Speaking of books, a great book for teen girls is "Body Drama" by Nancy Redd. I have a great relationship with my girls, but it turns out there were things I just hadn't thought to tell Big Sis (Little Sis hasn't reached the all out question stage yet.), or things I hadn't described well enough, and this book covered them, pictures included.

I can't get over a school bringing in the fundies to teach sex ed. Yikes! Whatever happened to just sticking to the facts? And by facts, I don't mean mythical bible based hoopla.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

John,
Ha! Actually, I worded it exactly as I did to include any potential. If you re-read it, then I bet it jumps out at you that I was leaving every option open.
"It's natural for boys and girls to want to connect physically with the people they're attracted to."

Poodles said...

Gretchen:

Actually if you go back to the bible it is natural for young girls to become multiple wifes and start having babies young. The FLDS church practices more pure forms of "bible doctrine" than other religions. Sorry, according to your book, they have it right and you have it wrong. Either way both religions are dumb asses about sex!

Katie said...

I only wish I had the option of getting out of those horrid abstinence only lectures. I only graduated from high school in 2004 and a lot of them were bordering whack-a-doodle crazy. One went as far as to convince people not to have sex because of the monetary value it would cost them to have a child (mainly this was aimed towards guys).
The funniest though had to be handed to the anti-abortion video we saw with the magical TALKING flying sprite zygote. This magical flying sprite zygote, in its cute little voice, fully described an inaccurate abortion to this cheerleader type girl and all my friends and I could not do was not to laugh too loudly. (btw this one took place at the catholic middle school I attended)
Seriously though we need better sex education for boys and girls in our schools. It will not only teach children about their bodies but also help rid some of the shame and guilt we often are made to associate with our sexual development that I can bet a lot of us know about growing up in a severely strict religious home.

Psychodiva said...

as a nurse/therapist working with kids I'm kinds glad you would trust us to give a good sex-ed lecture lol- over here in the uk we do it more often than doctors as we have more contact with kinds 'en masse' than them and generally also know more about it than your average doctor

I'm appalled at the state of sex-ed over in the usa!!

and where the heck is my ticket for this darwin sex-fest??

John said...

"Ha! Actually, I worded it exactly as I did to include any potential."

I re-read it; I stand corrected.

I am the father of a teenager (second time, the other is grown now), and I agree with you 1000%.

Fortunately, making sure one's teens are well prepared is easier than it has ever been.

maxi said...

Ah, the joys of sex ed. I recall I had 3 modules of sex ed when I was at school.

The first was when I was 11, and it was basically sex=babies. We had a lovely graphic video of childbirth. Urgh. I still shudder when thinking about it!

The next was when we were 14. This was more to do with birth control, STDs and sexual health.

The final session was my last year of high school (16) when we went over, in much detail, STDs and all forms of contraception. As well as other considerations to think about before having sex, such as why we want to have sex. I found this psychology useful. Absitence only education was mentioned for completeness, but wasn't condoned.

To be honest, a monthly subscription to Just Seventeen magazine did just as much to teach me about sex as sex ed courses.

Eclectic said...

Gah, what a pile of crap. Although I wasn't interested at the time, my third grade classroom had "Show Me!" on the open shelf, and I got a reasonably informative education in later years.

Admittedly, some of that was Anais Nin on my parents' bookshelf and The Joy of Sex on the shelf of some of their friends we visited, but there was classroom instruction as well.

Five methods of contraception? That's impressive; can I even name five? Condom, diapragm, IUD, birth control pill are the major ones. A fifth? Contraceptive sponge? Cervical cap? Rhythm?

Still, there are a few things I didn't learn that I wish I had known. Two caught me by surprise:

1) Although I learned that the most important female erogenous zones are at the top of the vulva, if you're trying to achieve pentration, aim low. It's funny in hindsight, but my partner got rather frustrated at the lengthy pause in proceedings while I figured that out.

2) Sex is wired very deeply into emotions. This makes perfect sense in light of evolution, but it really took me by surprise at how strong an emotional reaction it produced. Standing back and thinking about it after the fact is surprisingly difficult.

And one thing that I got lucky on, but I think is worth sharing:

3) Because of point number 2, you will remember The First Time, for good or for ill, for the rest of your life. Make it worth remembering.

Oh yes, and I should probably add a fourth point that I figured out at the time, but also bears repeating:

4) For the purposes of the above, "sex" is not just tab P goes into slot V. Another person actively participating in your orgasm will produce the same response.

Eclectic said...

Oh, I should add: you don't need a medical license to use an imaging ultrasound machine on someone else. What you need licensure for is to a) diagnose and b) treat (or prescribe a course of treatment). So interpreting the results, particularly in terms of health consequences, is practicing medicine, but showing the pictures isn't.

Fundies are selectively stupid, so they'll probably skirt the law in that case, although I bet individuals will step over it a lot.

maxi said...

Methods of contraception of the top of my head:

Condom
Diaphram
IUD
IU-something else, similar to the IUD
Mini pill
Combined pill
Contraceptive injection
Contraceptive implant

6 1/2, not bad!

John said...

We didn't have sex education when I was in grade school, but at CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) we did have a class called "attitudes toward sex". According to the Archdioceses' guidelines this was supposed to be for grades 4, 5 or 6. But the church kept putting it off so we didn't get this instruction until a mixed grade 7-8 class.

The teacher was so embarrassed by the material he could just barely get the words out. He started talking about puberty and he says:

"Some of you might have, uh, you know, um, noticed that um, you know, you're starting to see, um, you know, uh, hair in um, you know, places where um, you know, um, you know what I mean.

Now bear in mind, we are in the 7th and 8th grade.

So one of the girls raised her hand and asked:

"Is it unusual for PUBIC HAIR (teacher turns red at the sound of the word) to be a different color from head hair?"

The teacher said (believe it or not), "I've never heard of that, that um, you know, uh, hair is um, you know always the um, same."

Now, the reason this girl asked the question is because her drapes didn't match her carpet.

Because of that, she thought there was something wrong with her.

Gramomster said...

O. M. G. When are we going to figure it out!? Young people have sex... always have, always will. When I was in undergrad, one of my professors told of how, when she herself was in undergrad, she did a content analysis of marriage and birth records for her state for the years 1850-1900. Well over half, I believe nearly 70%, of first births occurred within 7 months of first marriage. I think we can all do the math...

As to the CPCs and PP... when my daughter got pregnant at 15 (and this came as a huge shock, as we'd talked openly and honestly about sex, contraception, reasons why one would choose to have sex, etc. etc., and had culminated in a trip to PP to get her on the pill when she came to me and said, "Mom, I need to go to the clinic."... thus demonstrating that no amount of education can guarantee that you won't find yourself with a pregnant kid, or a kid who's gonna pay child support for the next couple of decades...) anyhooo...
we were very much in need of finding out how far along she was so that she could get a better sense of her options and time frame. Planned Parenthood wouldn't see her until she was 12 weeks. But we won't know when she's 12 weeks if we can't figure out how far she is now! Doesn't matter... you'll have to go somewhere else to get that information. Then, when she reaches the twelfth week, we can see her.
Okay, WTF?! Isn't that part of what they exist to do? So, we managed to get her into a CPC, where she got an ultrasound, and was right about 7 weeks. I hated hated hated hated having to go there, but after several rounds of phone calls, they were the only option to find out just exactly how far along this kid was. Majorly frustrating!!!
She was raised in a staunchly pro-choice home, and the choice she made was to keep the fella. He just turned 2. She just turned 18.

That permission slip would have resulted, in our home, in permission to go to the museum or a movie that day. Screw xtian sex lectures. Gag.

jt said...

You go Momma! Teach them everything you can!

Logic Lad said...

I can only hope that i can be as open and honest with my kids when the time comes, nothing to do with religion, i just get embarresed easily :)