Friday, February 13, 2009

Sex ed, birth control, and access to each (part 1)

In this article (also about the 13-year-old father), an "anti-abortion Christian charity" spokesperson said this event "shows the policy of value-free sex education just isn't working."

First, values are taught at home. By parents. Not in health class, by coaches who know how to play football but not much else. It is not the school's job to teach values because it just won't work. I as a teacher cannot fight what you as a parent teach day in and day out every day of that child's life. So stop expecting me to. Parents need to start doing their job -- and someone needs to make them aware that this is their job.

I don't know anything about the sex ed policies of Britain. I know that here in Texas, we teach abstinence. And that's it. And you know who teaches it? The coaches. Who, first of all, are hardly ever* teachers: they know how to coach, not how to teach. And here they are, in charge of passing out this very sensitive, awkward, delicate, embarrassing information.

One of the coaches teaches health right across the hall from me (two periods out of the day, at least). I flat-out asked him what they teach for sex ed. He was too embarrassed to even answer my question.

"We don't even mess with that. It's too..."


But, apparently, in Britain they do teach this stuff. I'd like to know more details about what they teach and how (and if it's taught by people who are not scared to talk about bajingos and willy-wallies), but I doubt I'm going to find that out tonight.

According to this editorial in the Boston Globe (yes, I know it's from 2004, but textbook adoptions last for at least 10 years), even though "the [Texas] state curriculum for health education still mandates that students 'analyze the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of barrier protection and other contraceptive methods,'" the textbooks approved by the state for districts to adopt say not a word about these barrier protection and contraceptive methods. Pardon me, I stand corrected: one does.

Only one of the four approved books even mentions contraceptives. The altered lessons teach students how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases in many ways -- including "getting plenty of rest" -- but not by using condoms. One actually suggests using latex gloves to avoid contact with blood but says nothing about using latex . . . you get the idea.

Some of the other tips? (From's post on the subject)

“Get plenty of rest…When you're tired, it's hard to think clearly…Don't put yourself in a situation in which you have to make a tough choice when you're tired.” Yeah, I can see it now. “Yawn…well I know I’m supposed to wait till marriage, but shit I’m tired. What the hell, just stick it in.”

“Respect yourself.” Cause you know if you have sex you’re just a worthless whore, you no-respect-having slut!

“Go out as a group…You can also take the pressure off by double-dating.” Can anyone say orgy?

Jokes aside, it is pretty fucking discouraging that the state with the highest teen birth rate in the country is prescribing sleep instead of condoms.

Texas has long been a fan of abstinence-only programs, and we're the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate. Yay! I'm so proud.

Did you notice that second one, by the way? "Respect yourself." Because having sex is for whores. What a great lesson to teach our young women! If you have sex, you are a whore. You know what that translates into? When you have sex, you are a whore. Sex = whoritude. You had sex? With the guy with whom you've been in a committed monogamous relationship for how long now? Well, you know what sex means. Whore.

I'm cutting this off now. Because there's only so much angry ranting one can read in one sitting, and there are so many directions to go on. More to come tomorrow.

If you're looking for some fun reading, though, check out this post. We'll discuss it tomorrow.

*I have worked with two coaches who were also teachers. The rest of the coaching staff? Nope. And even for those few who do possess the necessary qualities to teach, the demands of coaching and of teaching make it all but impossible to do both. And, either way, the coaches who can teach are teaching a real subject, one they chose and studied. Not health. The ones teaching health are the ones who can do the sports, and nothing else. Which is why they go stuck with the leftover class. (Sorry for the tangential education rant.)


  1. One of the things I was so glad to hear Obama mention was a return to science. Maybe he'll actually use EVIDENCE and RESEARCH to make decisions about policy (like noticing that abstinence-only education doesn't work), rather than pure bull-headedness (as far as I can tell that's what had been dominating the White House previously).

    I'd never really thought about the coaches thing till you said something about it, but it makes so much sense and coaches should be there to just coach and not have to teach classes on the side. One of the many things that should get fixed about our education system...

  2. Yes, when he mentioned science in his inauguration speech, I almost cried.

    Another think I'll change when I become Queen of the World: coaches will put in their 40 hours coaching, attending sporting events, and MAYBE teaching a sports medicine class.

    Teachers will be in the classrooms.

    If someone wants to do both, sorry. He or she will have to choose. (I had to choose between teaching and interior design. They can choose between coaching and teaching.)