When I was in the seventh grade I moved from a small Catholic school to a large public junior high school. At my Catholic school, sex education consisted of the parish Priest pulling the boys aside to tell them “masturbation is a sin”. I won’t say this was the reason I left Catholic school, but it did contribute to my decision. It did not make sense to me that “sex with the one I love” could really piss off God. Why else would he have created the penis and Farrah Fawcett?
So I was a bit surprised when I reached public school. There, sex education was part of the curriculum. All of us sat through the requisite “badly produced film” showing how babies are made. I had a pretty good idea how the process of sex started outside of the body, but the internal workings were a bit of a revelation to me. The film had lots of weird vaginal and penis diagrams, with narration from a guy who sounded like he was doing voiceover to introduce the new Dodge Hemi engine. “The uterus! Truly one of the miracles of the body.” I learned that sperm are determined little fellas, and you have to be really careful where you place them.
The course also covered the various risks of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. We learned that “the last minute withdrawal” and Coca Cola were not effective birth control methods. Our Life Science teacher, a Vietnam vet, pulled the guys aside to detail the many horrible venereal diseases he had seen while in Nam. “Horrible dick rot, guys. You do not want to get the Weeping’ Willie. Use a condom.” he told us sternly.
And we listened. In fact, one of my friends stole a three pack of rubbers from his Dad’s dresser, and we all put one in our wallet – “just in case”. Well, “just in case” did not happen for quite a while – several years actually – but I remained ready. In fact, the true sign of “ready” at that age was the tell-tale ring that develops over time from sitting on a condom stuffed away in your wallet. Luckily I had the foresight to occasionally change out the rubber, as after a couple years they tend to rot.
But the point is, almost forty years ago the people that ran the school system in conservative Billings, Montana were smart enough to realize that sex education is a great thing for kids. It informs. It helps prevent unwanted pregnancy and disease. It’s good for society. If it were not for those forward-thinking folks, I suspect that many of my friends and I would have suffered many cases of “Weeping Willie”, and probably been responsible for a few abortions and / or unwanted children.
Which makes it all the more incredible to me that across this country there are influential people that want to eliminate sex education in schools, and move us back fifty or sixty years to replace education with abstinence training and the blind hope that “kids just won’t have sex”.
OK – I get it – you don’t want your seventh grader encouraged to have sex. I’m not a parent, but I also don’t think a twelve or thirteen year old is ready for sex, and I think it is every parent’s right to determine the proper course for their own child’s sexual indoctrination and moral structure. But teaching kids how sex works does not encourage them to have sex. When I was that age I also studied World War II – but that did not make me want to invade Poland or become a Nazi. And face it…..if they watch television, use the internet, or go to movies, they are aware and encouraged to have sex. Why not arm them with the proper information and warnings about what it could lead to so they are ready and make good decisions?
I know how some people think. Don’t talk about it – and then it won’t exist. But that’s like believing that denying global warming and evolution will somehow make the earth healthy and 6000 years old. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
And not to be crass, but people love sex almost more than they love anything in the world! That’s why potty-mouthed people say things like “that was a lot of fucking fun” – or “that was fucking great!” “Fucking” is both an adverb and verb that usually connotes wonderful, so people are going to gravitate to it. People like sex so much that they often put it above everything else in their lives. Sex has toppled the world’s most powerful men, and led to a restructuring of the globe, so do we really think a kid will have the willpower to resist “Katie in the incredible tight jeans”?
Next point – and I know some of you don’t want to hear this – but teenage sex when properly handled is one of life’s greatest gifts! Most of the people I know lost their virginity somewhere between the ages of 15 and 20 – and I seldom meet anyone who said “gee, I wish I would have waited to have sex until I was 34 and married”. Ask someone on their deathbed – and unless they are dying of a sexually transmitted disease – I bet the one thing they will not say is “the biggest regret in my life is that I had too much sex”. Of course, if you ask someone who was not educated, and did not understand the risk of pregnancy and STDs they might regret their sexual past.
Some of the best memories of my life revolve around the sex I had in high school and college (and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who helped create these wonderful memories – you know who you are). I would hope all young people of the appropriate age and emotional state could have the freedom to choose whether or not to experience the wonders of sexual exploration with a full understanding of the pros and cons. And part of making that experience great is education; making sure that kids know about the dangers of unwanted pregnancy and STDs.