The community's opposition to HB 2628 (the proposed anti-sex ed and anti-Planned Parenthood legislation) gave me a boost that has carried me through the spring. The bill failed on the floor of the House of Representatives at 50-for and 51-against. Whew! I am so thankful that clients, colleagues, and friends made time in their busy schedules to make their voices heard.
I am also happy that the battle is over for the time being. Every minute wasted on fighting that ridiculous bill was a minute taken away from what truly matters - providing accurate and applicable sexuality education for all ages. Perhaps that was the true intent of the bill's authors - to side track us.
Whatever the case, life goes on.
In the last few weeks, another batch of research has concluded that abstinence-only-until-marriage education is not effective in preventing sexual activity, teen pregnancy, or teen sexually transmitted infections. One highly publicized study found that one in four teen girls in the United States has a sexually transmitted infection. (This coincides with the fact that most sexually active teens do not use condoms to reduce their risks.) Although this research got a lot of media time, ideology apparently still trumps science.
In today's The Oklahoman, there was an insightful editorial about alternative schools. One particular line really caught my attention: "When it comes to alternative education, it's clear that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work."
The same can be said for sexuality education. The best, most effective sexuality education must take into consideration the developmental levels of the individual students, the environments in which they live, their experiences related to sexuality and relationships, their families and peers, their access to health care, and much more. To force educators (and students, for that matter) into an individual notion of what's right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, moral and immoral - simply doesn't work. This is becoming quite evident from the research findings.
I sure wish that certain legislators and a few others in positions of power could understand this. We are not anti-abstinence. We are pro-sexual health. In today's world, sexuality is complex and deserves more than the simplistic approach of "just say no." I much prefer the title of a locally-developed, life skills-based program that has proven effective -- "Just Say Know."