3.09.2012

Let's get political, political . . .

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If any Utah friends are feeling particularly livid right now about the health care bill that just passed, welcome to my club!

For those who don't know what it is, House Bill 363 would allow schools to drop their sex ed programs. Schools that choose to keep sexual education on the curriculum would be restricted to teaching "abstinence only." No discussion of contraception, no discussion about the idea of sex outside of marriage, no acknowledgment of homosexuality. It could even be taken so far that if kids did approach an educator with questions about how to prevent STDs or pregnancy, the educator would not be allowed to give them that information (except to say, "Just don't have sex until you are married.").

It seems like the logic here goes something like this: "Parents are the best people to teach their children about their bodies and about sex. So the best thing to do here is make sure that nobody else is allowed to. Of course, there are all those teenagers whose parents are too embarrassed/unaware/uninterested to talk about it. That's too bad for those kids, but at least when they make poor decisions as a result of being completely ignorant and/or misinformed and wind up pregnant or diseased, that will just go to show how important parents are."

Way to turn teenagers (and their babies) into collateral damage, jerks.

The current program is an "opt-in" one--kids have to have parental consent to participate. And the fact that over 90% of Utah parents choose to opt-in should say something. Here are the majority of parents feeling that there is value in allowing the schools to participate in arming their children with accurate and appropriate information, and a few lawmakers are going to be all, "Well, forget what those parents think. I'm talking about this other kind of parent that I have in mind, and they don't want anyone to know anything. So there."

If you are so inclined, there is still time to sign this petition to the governor, encouraging him to veto the bill. Or just contact his office directly even though he already kind of said that he doesn't care what the citizens of Utah think.

Other articles:

Deseret News: Abstinence-only sex education bill passes Utah Legislature

Salt Lake Tribune Opinion Piece

St George News: Ignorance of sex is best remedy



21 comments:

MJ said... [reply]

I'm 110% with you. I only wish I lived in UT so that I could legitimately sign the petition.

Unbelievable.

Jonathon said... [reply]

Yes, let's thrust our state back into the dark ages. That's the best way to protect our kids—to never let them hear about sex from anyone else but us, to never let them see someone pour an alcoholic drink—because heaven knows that telling them about things we don't want them to do will only make them want to do them.

I remember the sex talk I had with my mom. It was awkward and uncomfortable and, to be honest, did not tell me much that I hadn't already heard from kids at school. My junior-high and high-school health classes, on the other hand, were pretty informative, and—gasp—did not cause me to run out and have sex.

I really hate this state sometimes.

Saskia said... [reply]

I don't think abstinence only ed would fly over here in the Netherlands, ever. One less thing to worry about when I have kids.

C. said... [reply]

Sweet merciful heavens! I tend to be critical of my state's hyper-liberal stance about most things and hate it, but I guess this goes to show that being hyper-conservative is just as psychotic and damaging.

I mean, the option needs to exist! What about those girls who get married right out of high school? They might like to know how to NOT become a baby-making machine if they so choose. This even coming from someone whose parents "opted out" of sex ed. Good grief!

perkiwindy said... [reply]

I am one that would opt out....BUT...I am also realistic. I think there is a large group of kids who DON'T hear about it at home like mine, and that's no good. Surprisingly, a place like UT is full of folks who are too afraid, embarrased, or think it is inappropriate to talk to their kids about it. Just glad I live in AZ I guess...

Jenny said... [reply]

Human biology and public health should include sexual reproduction and disease prevention. Why is that so absurd? It shouldn't be a choice between abstinence or learning that a condom reduces the risk of HIV and pregnancy and the spread of other diseases. If anything, abstinence should be taught at home.

I had a roommate my freshman year of college whose parents didn't let her attend any type of maturation or sex ed taught in the school system and they didn't give her any information on their own either. She had no idea about menstruation, the names of the male and female reproductive organs, the mechanics of sex, or how to use a tampon, or that you could be a virgin if you used a tampon.

Human Physiology and the education about the spread and prevention of disease should be taught in school.

Kiersten said... [reply]

I am so irate about this. I'm glad you posted those links. Radio West did a segment on this topic, and Representative Wright (Right? I have no idea how to spell his name, nor do I know where Holden is) said, outloud, on the radio, that there is no reason for people to know anything about sex until they are married. I almost choked.

Liz Johnson said... [reply]

My hell, this makes me so angry. I'm sorry, but since when is "making an informed decision" a bad thing?? That is just terrible. I'm already saddened by Utah's inevitable increase in teen pregnancy rate. For the love.

Just when I was thinking I could move back there without going on a homicidal rage... yeah, never mind.

Liz Johnson said... [reply]

homicidal RAMPAGE, not rage. proofread, Liz, proofread!

Maggie said... [reply]

How out of touch are these politicians? Do they honestly believe that eliminating sex ed will have any kind of positive affect? That if we don't talk about sex, kids won't learn about elsewhere?

News flash - we're biologically programed to crave it, talking about it doesn't make it more accessible, and it can serves to demystify and promote informed choices.

I grew up in a loving home where sex was never discussed. My first introduction was 90210 - which didn't exactly promote abstinence. Thank heavens for those meager explanations I received from school.

Sherry said... [reply]

There are a couple of things about this that I find very ironic.

1. Higher teen pregnancy means more people on welfare. Aren't the conservatives especially keen on avoiding putting people on the dole?

2. In listening to many of the national political nonsense you frequently hear a statement from the Republicans that the government thinks they know better than the people. This is a case of the government completely ignoring the will of the people because they apparently think they know better.

Lindsey Johnson said... [reply]

Yes. Utah can't seem to make the disconnect between church and state. SO ANNOYING.

I had to learn about sex at school. Parents didn't really talk much about it, other than my dad who joked about it all the time. Such a tragedy for kids whose parents don't.

Utah, you are so backwards!!!

(Loved what you wrote on FB about it, btw.)

Janssen said... [reply]

Ack, ack, ack!

(repressing the urge to type everything that follows in caps)

Just opt out if you don't want your kids to hear it! Information is not condoning actions! Stop tying the hands of the teachers even more than they already are! This is going to end so badly for practically everyone!

(obviously I didn't repress my exclamation point usage)

Amber said... [reply]

Out here in IL, we have our high school kids practice putting condoms on cucumbers. This is not a lie. I guess maybe there could be a middle road, right?!!

Heather said... [reply]

I'm not disagreeing with your post by any means but I just moved out of a state where the newly approved sex-ed curriculum included instruction in various positions for both heterosexual and homosexual intercourse and other sex acts. Wouldn't you love to be the maturation teacher! I'd prefer Utah, thank you. Sex and politics don't mix well from either spectrum.

Bebe McGooch said... [reply]

This is very concerning. Seriously, why no middle road here? I just don't understand how people come up with these things.

I also want to vomit from Heather's comment about kids learning positions.

Jenny said... [reply]

Utah currently has (had) the middle road with the legislation from 2000 that made all sex education opt in. So parents currently have to sign a waiver before allowing their child to receive any sex ed/maturation.

Then the districts should choose the curriculum that is most appropriate for their student and parents, through opting in or out can show their support or not. The state shouldn't be mandating the curriculum.

This new bill undermines the existing cities and parents' current partnership in creating and teaching curriculum that both parties are satisfied with and are supportive of.

emandtrev said... [reply]

This whole issues leaves me so flipping annoyed and pretty much dumbfounded. I almost threw the remote at the TV the other night when (you will probably know exactly who this is) a woman said something to the effect of "Kids and parents can find anything they'd ever need to know on the Internet."

Urrrrggghhhhh!!!!

First of all, many kids that NEED their parents to talk to them about it are the ones that may not. And then it becomes a social issue with wide-ranging impacts when kids think that what they do has no repercussions. Second of all, if a parent doesn't like it (and like Janssen said), opt OUT. Let's live in the now, legislators. Puh-lease.

Mrs. Clark said... [reply]

Nem, as a mom for over 28 years and who went through an innovative sex-ed program in CA, I have to comment. Not that I think Utah has taken a good approach, and I favor an opt-in program myself.

Back in the Dark Ages 1950s and early 60s, girls got pregnant outside marriage. That was not a good thing. They got married or gave up the baby for adoption.

Today, after 40-plus years of sex education, which tends to break down the natural reticence kids have toward such matters and now we have rampant STDs, a large percentage of children being born outside marriage (29% of all children born to white women under 30, I believe is the current statistic, more to minority women), and, I feel, a far-too-frank and debased attitude toward sex. Believe me, I'm not a prude, but the problems of teen sexual activity are much worse today than when such things were swept under the rug.

I don't believe in bringing up kids in ignorance, but I do believe that however uncomfortable the conversation, parents should be the front line in teaching their kids about human growth and development.

I opted my kids out of most of the sex ed here (I live on the east coast) after reviewing the entire curriculum--which was quite different from the short statements the school sent home on the opt-out forms. I understand why something like this passed in the UT legislature, but I wonder what, exactly, pushed it through at this point in time.

You ought to read A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit. You may not agree with everything she says, but it's an eye-opener.

Flashlight Girl said... [reply]

Signed the petition and contacted the Governor's office. I'm so annoyed that this stupid bill was even introduced, let alone passed. Thanks for the links!

The current opt-out curriculum is working. I've had 2 of my children participate. The oldest in Jr high and again in high school. The topic was taught responsibly and accurately. It was helpful to have someone else my children respect teach them many of the same things that they have already been taught at home. Granted, one doesn't generally teach your 10 year old about contraception when discussing sex, etc. But it is an important part of that high school discussion. EVEN WHEN YOU ARE PREACHING ABSTINENCE!!! I got married young (19) and luckily had parents who weren't too embarrassed about such things. The sex ed taught at school was very limited. It was a class I took at college (some marriage and family something or other) as a freshman that was the most educational. SOOO glad I took that class before I got married! I learned a lot about men and women. I wasn't a prude or living under a rock, but no one had been as frank or direct as that professor up to that point in my life. I think many of the young people of Utah need that kind of education.

Desmama said... [reply]

Vetoed! Hooray!

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