Thursday, May 7, 2015

Abstinence Only Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Warning: I'm expressing an opinion in this post. It might not be your opinion, but this is my blog. Just giving you that warning so you can leave now if you want.

I'm not the sort of person who reads People every day. (And it's okay if you are...no judgment here. I read it every other day, probably.) But sometimes, on the days I have no plans to cruise to that site, a link will catch my eye and I click on over to read all about the pretty people. Most of those pretty people probably aren't any better looking than us. They just have better makeup and photographers, you know?

The link that caught my eye today floored me. In bold letters, the title says: Chlamydia Outbreak at Texas High School with Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed Program. Yes, you read that right. Chlamydia at a high school. And it's an outbreak. If you read the article, you'll understand that 20 cases of chlamydia have been confirmed at Crane High School in west Texas. What's 20 cases? When you only have 300 students in the school, that's a lot of chlamydia.

Let me educate you for a minute on chlamydia, in case you aren't aware of this sexually transmitted infection (yeah, some people still call them venereal diseases or STDs but a wonderful clinician I know and love told me that I should call them STIs.) Chlamydia is a bacterial infection spread via sexual contact. It is quite common and sadly, can be present without symptoms. It can become a threat to good health: a woman's reproductive organs can be permanently damaged, and men's reproductive organs can also be affected. The silver lining of this infection? It can also be prevented with regular condom use. (For more accurate information, please go to the CDC.)

Notice what I said there. Regular condom use. I probably should also have said appropriate condom use. As in, using the condom each and every time in the manner it is supposed to be used, before the expiration date, yada, yada, yada.

So why did this outbreak happen then? My readers are astute. You KNOW why the outbreak occurred, but in case you haven't had your coffee yet, the title says it all: Abstinence-Only Sex Ed. Apparently, the program isn't working, and the superintendent, Jim Rumage, acknowledges that fact. He is quoted as saying, "We do have an abstinence curriculum, and that evidently ain't working."

Ya think, Jim? Were you ever a high school student?

The People article goes on to say that "Rumage defended the school's sex-ed program – three days of abstinence-only advocacy each fall – in a separate interview with the San Antonio Express-News. 'If kids are not having any sexual activity, they can't get this disease … That's not a bad program,' he said."

Yes, yes it is, because clearly, the kids are having sexual activity! You've just proven that to be the case! And, you've contradicted yourself because you took note of the fact that the program isn't working. Doesn't that imply then, that the program is bad?

If I polled a group of high school kids around here and asked them how many have had sex or were having sex regularly, I'm sure I'd shudder at the number. But that's reality and trying to tell them to just say no is not effective. Arm the kids with the right information. Show them the data, show them the pictures, give them what they need to make an informed choice. I'm not naive: I know that kids will have sex. But if they're going to have sex, they need to know how to keep themselves safe.
is an infection caused by a kind of bacteria that is passed during sexual contact - See more at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/chlamydia#sthash.19hwcAT9.dpuf
is an infection caused by a kind of bacteria that is passed during sexual contact - See more at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/chlamydia#sthash.19hwcAT9.dpuf

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel I must be confused on what "abstinence-only" curriculum means in general. The schools around me teach an "abstinence-only" sex-ed class, but that does not exclude real information about sex or explanations about condoms. The kids still see the graphic pictures of things that can be spread. It's just that they also teach the only way to be 100% sure you won't catch anything, or get pregnant, is by saying no. I didn't realize that "abstinence-only" could mean that more detailed sex education would be ignored.