So, I mentioned yesterday that Utah lawmakers shot down a bill that would have changed the way that sexual education is taught in public schools. I realize that often this is a sensitive subject everywhere, but it seems like if you are going to be able to teach sex ed at all, you might is well do it right and not leave things out! One of the major purposes of the bill was to allow educators to talk more openly about contraception and contraceptives.
As it stands currently, the law is written in such a way that most educators avoid any discussion of contraceptives because they are not supposed to appear as if they are pro-contraceptives. Why is this a bad thing? Why are people so afraid to teach kids about sex and sexuality?
The amazing thing is the statistics in Utah regarding sexually transmitted diseases. The statistics that I saw on the news yesterday were based on reported cases of chlamydia and this is what they were (from: Planned Parenthood of Utah):
- #1 sexually transmitted disease
- Five new cases every day
- 5,000 new cases every year
- 60% under age 24
- 30% under age 19
Ironically (at least in my opinion), the bill was proposed by a Republican, but the state senate comittee didn’t even take the time to discuss it. That’s right, all the people that shows up from BOTH sides of the issue didn’t have a chance to voice any opinions. However one of the people who did manage to at least get her opinion on TV and quoted in the newspaper doesn’t even have kids in the public school system.
It seems to me that once again we see the clear lack of separation between church and state. I hate to say it, but whether or not your religion has anything to say at all on sex, sexuality, and contraception has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it should be taught in school. Some argue that it is a parent’s responsibility to teach their kids about sex and sexuality, but honestly, how many people had their parents talk to them about sex, and how many people are really going to talk to their kids about it? The question then becomes: why should the state teach what the parents are not?
Well, as illustrated by the statistics it is a public health issue. In a state where the predominant culture is forcefully preaching no pre-marital sex, no/limited sex-ed in school, and that contraception is a sin how do you explain the high rates of STDs and pregnancies out of wedlock? Might have something to do with the fact that all you have to do is turn on the TV and you get a pretty warped view of sex. Of course you also have the internet and other kids! So, would you rather have a trained educator teach your children how to be safe or should your kids just go out and try out the things that they learned on TV or on the internet? Maybe it is that funny fact that when you tell someone what the are not allowed to do something, they are more likely to go out and do it.
It seems strange to live in a time and place where it seems that people would rather let ignorance rule life. It isn’t just Utah that has issues like this, it happens all over this country. Americans are really prude when it comes to issues of sex and sexuality. It is like people believe that if they ignore it, it will go away. Again, I hate to say it, but ignorance is not bliss in this case. Ignorance leads to issues like disease and unwanted babies!
So, I ask, why is learning about sex and sexuality such a bad thing? Why is it such a taboo subject? It is a fact of life, it is a life experience. American society has made it into a subject that is almost worse than cursing. We don’t have to explicitly teach kids how to put the peg in the hole, nor do we have to encourage them to do it. We should give them the tools and the knowledge that they need to be safe so that when they decide to go experiment. Or maybe you have people who are happily married with kids, but they don’t want more, maybe they should have been taught about rolling out the raincoats so that they can still enjoy life without worrying!