Oh my HELL!
I was planning on writing something fun and light-hearted that has been on my mind for some time now but, because the ignorant are out in force (and also seem to be running my state), I have decided to share an amended post I am simultaneously posting on my personal blog. You should probably grab a drink and a bag of popcorn; this is going to be a long one…
SEX is a three letter word that strikes fear into the hearts and minds of parents everywhere. Okay, maybe not all parents but most parents in Utah. And when I say most parents in Utah, I mean most Mormon parents. Not all Mormon parents, just most of them.
The sexual education I received while attending school in Utah was deplorable. Not only was it inadequate, it was nearly nonexistent. The only thing I took away from my health courses’ units on sex were horrible images of men’s penises covered in Herpes and Chlamydia. Those images will be forever burned into my mind (and not in a good way).
As a teenager, I remember hearing horror stories about kids I went to school with doing unmentionable things WITH unmentionable things (for example, one of the varsity basketball players liked to cover his penis in peanut butter and allow his dog to fellate him – as a varsity athlete I heard this first hand from the source).
Young men and women were also manipulated by their significant others to participate in sexual activities that they didn’t know were sexual activities until it was too late. A friend of mine was wooed by his girlfriend into the girl’s bathroom and they proceeded to finger each other; a member of the faculty heard the ordeal and walked in on the scene. The girlfriend cried rape and framed my friend to save her own skin (she later joked to me and many others that she was so lucky she didn’t get in trouble and how smart she was to tell them it was all her boyfriend’s fault). A short time later, the administration of the local junior high came to my stake presidency and bishopric and asked them to tell the young men and women that oral sex is still a type of sex and should not be performed anywhere on campus.
Finally, I saw more and more students turn to pornography and other unsavory sources to get answers to their questions because parents were too afraid to discuss such taboo subjects and educators were legally unable to – even I got caught with my hand in the proverbial cookie jar doing some “research” at the public library… Really, I was, trying to find answers but still very awkward for me and the poor librarian.
It’s been almost ten years since I graduated high school and the Internet and other media resources are available more than ever. And, now, self-righteous, overly zealous, ignorant Utah lawmakers have taken it upon themselves to further limit the sexual education today’s youth are receiving (read the full, amended bill here). House Bill 363, also known as the Abstinence Bill, has been approved by the state’s Education Committee and has already passed by majority vote in the state’s House of Representatives. This bill, if passed, will make abstinence the only approved sexual information that educators can legally discuss in the classroom and even allows schools and districts to opt out of teaching any form of sex education if they so choose.
I encourage you to read the bill in its entirety but if you can’t, the core of the bill is as follows:
“Human sexuality instruction or instructional programs shall teach and stress:
- The importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage and fidelity after marriage as the only sure methods of preventing certain communicable diseases;
- Personal skills that encourage individual choice of abstinence and fidelity.
- Human sexuality instruction or instructional programs may not include instruction or advocacy of:
o The intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior;
o The use of contraceptive methods or devices; or
o Sexual activity outside of marriage.
- An instructor may respond to a spontaneous question as long as the response is consistent with the provisions of this section.”
The provisions listed above are taken verbatim (including bold and underlined font) from the amended bill that is waiting for the state Senate’s vote.
You heard me. Teachers cannot discuss or even respond to questions about what sex is and is not, they cannot acknowledge the existence of homosexuality, they cannot advocate safe sex practices through effective contraceptive methods or devices. They cannot do ANYTHING but tell students to keep “it” in their pants until they're married and then encourage them to screw like rabbits.
We live in the information age where sexuality, in all of its forms, is being broadcast across every media venue available. If we don’t stand up as individuals, parents, and educators to effectively teach our children the integral part sexuality plays in the human condition, they will find their answers elsewhere. One only needs to open a magazine, the newspaper, turn on the television, watch a movie, or browse the Internet to gain a very broad education on the topic of human sexuality.
And, furthermore, gay students already have an uphill battle, how dare any politician or person anywhere deny a child’s opportunity to find out more about who or what they are. If one in ten people are gay, at least three students will be silently crying inside in every one of these health classes during these lessons. Most of them, ESPECIALLY in Utah, will already be fighting to reconcile who they are and how they fit in with their sexuality. This, more than anything, breaks my heart.
Below you will find a copy of an e-mail I sent to the state senator that represents my constituency. I hope you take the time to share your disappointment in this bill by opening up dialogue with your Utah state senators, too.
Utah State Senator
District _ _
Dear Senator_________ –
I am writing this letter to share my disappointment and, frankly, my dissatisfaction with the State Education Committee and the State House of Representatives approval of House Bill 363 (HB 363), better known as the Abstinence Bill.
I grew up a member of the state’s dominant religion and I was taught the principles of abstinence from day one. I was also fortunate enough to have a European mother who was practical enough to teach me what sex was and how integral sexuality is to the human condition. She never advocated sex (with or without contraceptives) before marriage but there was never a lack in open dialogue surrounding the subject. I knew what a condom was, I knew what the pill was, I knew the dangers of contracting sexual disease, and I knew what homosexuality was. I had an understanding of what sexuality is and how it could affect me – both positively and negatively.
As I progressed through junior high and high school, I was confused by the sexual education units that were given during my required health courses. While in those classes, I learned what a tampon was, how a woman’s period worked, the natural progression of puberty for both males and females, and the incredibly high likelihood I would be smitten with Chlamydia, Herpes, or AIDS if I was to give into the wiles of sexual passion prior to marriage. While this was incredibly interesting (albeit terrifying) to my teenage self, it was also defeating the purpose of sexual education – the teachers never discussed sex! As I sat in those classes, it became very apparent I was one of the few who understood what intercourse was and how a person could become infected with these heinous diseases. This was (and still is) unacceptable and the new law (HB 363), if passed, will limit essential information for today’s youth even more.
It is ignorant and irresponsible to believe that any and all sexual education is happening in our community’s homes. I truly wish that everyone I knew growing up had the privilege of having a parent as open and honest as my mother, but my experiences at Bingham High School a decade ago, along with the shameful ignorance of my fellow students at BYU, clearly illustrated to me the severe gap in understanding our community has between what they are taught at home and in the classroom and their wedding nights.
To conclude, the Internet will more than satiate the curiosity of today’s youngsters if parents AND educators do not step up to the plate and teach children and teenagers about an integral part of being human. Teenagers are a veritable petri dish of hormones and if they don’t get the answers they need from respectable sources they will turn to pornography and get an even more distorted version of how beautiful and wonderful sexual activity can be under appropriate circumstances.
I urge you senator, please vote against this oppressive bill and advocate for better education for our youth. Vote to allow teachers to answer their students’ questions and supplement the sub-par education that students are (or aren’t) getting at home. Ignorance is not bliss.
If you would like to discuss this issue or have any questions for me, please let me know. I am always willing to discuss the issues that affect our state and our community.
_______ _. ______
__ ___ ______ _____
____ ______, Utah
Anyway, I wish you all the best this week and send you all my love!
Cheers my friends,