Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sexual Ignorance

This isn’t about poker (unless you recall the old sign for the Man Cave that read, “Liquor in front, Poker in rear).  It’s about sex, specifically teen sex, and the ongoing battle to “educate” our young people about sex.  That word is in quotes because there is education, as described as teaching about how it works, how to prevent disease, and how to prevent pregnancy.  There is also “education,” as in scolding, pressuring, denying, and holding out that the ONLY way to educate youth about sex is to say, “Abstinence Only” over and over and over and over and over again.

In 2014, no less.

I bring this up because my little town of Seaside is once again hosting the state’s Adolescent Sexuality Conference (this year’s theme: Building Blocks of Youth Sexual Health).  It’s been going on since the late Seventies, and this year there was something new added – a protest.

I was downtown on an errand when I saw the protesters form their picket line.  It was early, before the conference started, and there were dozens of cars parked at the OTHER end of the parking lot (next to the Catholic Church…coincidence?).  Although the big-city TV stations that covered the protest highlighted the “pornographic content” and the idea of “local control,” I saw the signs the protesters held.  I know what they really were protesting.

The idea that teens have sex.

Like it or not, teens will have sex.  Always have.  Always will.  Is this a good thing?  A bad thing?  Like so much in life, it depends.

I don’t disagree with the idea that persons should not have sex if there’s a chance of unwanted pregnancy, or potential of transmission of disease.  I consider such individuals unknowledgeable and unready to engage in what some refer to as “safe sex.”  In cases such as these, no sex is better than safe sex.

But you’ll note that I did not attach any age to such a condition.

Many “kids” aren’t ready.  I can also vouch that many adults are not, either, including many who ALREADY HAVE KIDS.  It’s not about age – it’s about maturity.  It’s also about knowledge, which means education, which means “no quotes” around the word “education.”

Abstinence only “education” has been shown to be NOT PRODUCTIVE.  Over and over and over.  Often the “education” is riddled with lies, distortions, half-truths, and scare devices.  Kids need support, facts, caring.  It’s a difficult enough issue without the crap coming at you from the “just say no” crowd.

In the fourteen years we’ve ran the ice cream parlor here, we’ve hired more than 50 young women (OK, teen girls).  I’ve lost a number to other jobs, college, and fired a few as well. 

And I’ve lost two because of pregnancy – one sixteen year-old, and one fifteen-year old (who was impregnated by a thirteen year-old boy).  I learned (later) that the sixteen year-old had the child, had another, married another man, and it seemed that she got her life on track OK.  So she said.  I never heard from the fifteen year-old, but figured she’d wind up like her mom (many kids, different dads, lather, rinse, repeat).

I can’t help but think that perhaps, with a little more education and a lot less “education” things might have turned out differently.  I don’t know.  I also would assume that these two are NOT the only ones who have had sex while working here (just an assumption on my part based on stuff I hear is all).  And I could not say for certain whether those who had sex and didn’t get pregnant had more or less education or “education” that the other two.

But I can tell you that the time to get our heads out of the sand and admit that kids need facts, not a waving finger (with a “no, no, no” sneer).  Abstinence only does not work and should not be tried.  Or funded. 

Advocate self-discipline and practice moderation, but above all promote education.

Quit fucking around with “Abstinence Only pseudo-education.”

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