And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the Earth …
--Genesis 1 28 (kjv)
I sit in a classroom sweaty with sixth grade newly budding testosterone. I've never had Mr. Weiss as a teacher, but I do today because he's a guy, and it's all guys day in sixth grade sex education. I'm excited because Mrs. Krausse, the mean hag, isn't teaching me today. I guarantee that her verbal descriptions of the topic at hand would set me on edge. Mr. Weiss helped me that first day, not because he taught me many new things, but because he was the first, and most expert, at not only describing pictures of anatomy to me (I even had tactile pictures later on in school), but he was the first person outside of my family to teach me about sex. It was the first time that I'd talked about multiplication as it related to sex in my public school education. I don't know if I'm a nerd or not, but this wasn't a "free" period away from spelling, or math, or history. This was real education, and because of what my parents had prepped me, I wasn't scared, but was ready to learn.
My parents have always been pretty straight forward with me about sex. We humans are designed with the main idea of procreation, and when we become teenagers, interesting changes happen in our nether regions which, if you're a stereotypical guy, morph our thoughts from Transformers and toy dump trucks, to thoughts of girls, girls, and … girls. So my parents decided they would get to me before these changes happened, just so that I might be ready for them. I was raised a Protestant Christian, and my parents made sure that they told me that I should wait to have sex until I got married, but they spared me few details in talking about the mechanics of sex and the problems I could get myself into if I were to have sex before marriage and how I could protect myself. Sex was never a scary, unknown thing. It was a gift from God and therefore it was a special and sacred thing, and that’s why I should—they said—save it for my future wife. In sixth grade, any details that my parents spared me were revealed with pictures, films, demonstrations of protective techniques, descriptions of birth control medications and methods, and rather long uncomfortable discussions if I remember correctly
. Abstinence was always mentioned, but sex was never vilified; it was only explained n sometimes in sometimes excruciatingly disgusting detail.
I am very thankful that I had the sexual education in my public school that I did. Though the South is not exclusive to this idea (I’ve moved here from the southwest), I’ve heard more and more talk about abstinence only sex education. This idea makes my stomach turn even though I have made a personal choice to abstained from sexual intercourse before marriage. In abstinence-only sexual education, little or no information is given about sex itself, but abstinence is drummed into the student’s malleable brains on a moral/religious pretense. Many times, students in abstinence-only sex education classes sign pledges to abstain, and most times, they break this pledge before their eighteenth birthday. Studies comparing comprehensive versus abstinence-only sex education have even shown a marked increase in the sexual activity of teens who have had access to abstinence-only sex education. Teens who are taught abstinence alone have the same hormonal urges as those teens who have comprehensive sexual education; the only issue is that those who are taught that absttinence is the only option may not know that condoms exist, much less how to use them, when and if the raging hormonal hurricane that is teenage love descends. According to this article, 70% of teens who are taught using the abstinence-only method have had oral sex by the time they turn 18, and 40% have had sexual intercourse by this time.
Much like religion, choosing to abstain from sex until marriage is a personal decision. Many Christian religious leaders have coached their followers, using the scriptures and other experiences, to be celibate until marriage for moral reasons. Abstinence has other advantages then the religious or moral ones. When abstaining, you have a 100% chance of not having an unwanted child or getting a sexually transmitted disease as condoms or other birth control methods work most of the time, but are not fool-proof and don’t work all of the time.
Although I personally agree with and practice abstinence, I don’t want my kids to be taught nothing but abstinence in a sexual education class. Sure, my kids might still become a statistic--a teenage pregnancy, a sexually transmitted disease carrier--but it is my hope that with my guidance as a parent, and the guidance from a knowledgeable health professional or teacher, that a responsible, balanced, sexual education will be taught.
Sex is a gift that has been given to us by our creator, not only for pleasure, but it’s been given to us for the express purpose of creating new life. Let’s give our kids useful knowledge about sex rather than just telling them that the only option is abstinence. Let’s tell teens that birth control and contraception is available and resist the urge to scare them so much that they either become rebellious and have sex just because someone has told them not to, or be so scared that their married sex life is rife with worry and moral confusion. Let’s teach our kids how to multiply and replenish the Earth responsibly by actually teaching them. Complete knowledge = power. Abstinence-only sex education does not teach complete knowledge, but only glosses over an important issue that must and can be responsibly dealt with through proper, complete sex education.