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Thursday, May 30
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion oped editorial education

Editorial: An outbreak of ignorance and chlamydia

WE SAY: This Texas high school is further proof that abstinence only is insufficient

STIgnorance

A high school in Texas that preaches abstinence-only sex education has found itself with a chlamydia outbreak so severe warning notes were sent home to inform parents about the ?disease’s proliferation.

As of last Tuesday, officials in Crane Independent School District in Crane, Texas, have reported 20 confirmed cases, which amounts to about 1 in 15 students. The district also began sending the warning notes to the junior high school to preempt further outbreaks.

The obvious issue at hand in this case is the school’s woefully insufficient sex education program. According to the Huffington Post, Crane Independent only offers a three-day program once a year that emphasizes abstinence rather than teaching students how to engage in all variations of sexual activity safely and healthily.

Their program’s flaws are easily identifiable after a glance through the school’s handbook, which proclaims that it intends to “present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior ... for unmarried persons” and “devote more attention to abstinence ... than to any other behavior.”

Clearly such a strategy is ineffective given the outbreak, but superintendent Jim Rummage seems to believe that telling students who are clearly sexually active to cease that behavior will work: “That’s not a bad thing,” he said of the abstinence-only program, “because if kids are not having any sexual activity, they can’t get this disease.”

In his 1953 book ”Sexual Behavior in the Human Female,” IU’s own Dr. Alfred Kinsey wrote: “There are those who believe that we would do better if we ignored (sexuality’s) existence, that we should not try to understand its material origins, and that if we sufficiently ignore it and mop at the flood of sexual activity with new laws, heavier penalties, more pronouncements, and greater intolerances, we may ultimately eliminate the reality.”

Those who govern the Crane Independent School District — and all who believe that only teaching abstinence will keep young adults safe and healthy — are clearly the misdirected few Kinsey references.

Denying the inevitable reality of teen sex is not only ignorant, it’s harming students in clearly measurable ways. According to the CDC, nearly half of American high school students have had sex, and a quarter of them have contracted sexually transmitted diseases.

Of course, protective measures like condoms are meant to prevent unplanned pregnancy too, but students aren’t being taught how to effectively use those either; over a quarter million children were born to teenage mothers in 2013.

So why can’t American teens keep sexually transmitted diseases at bay? They don’t know how. Only 19 states require that sex education be ?medically accurate.

That means that only about four of every 10 students who entered college this year heard truths about sex and received accurate instruction. Only 46 percent of them were taught anything other than abstinence.

All of this daunting data has a terrifying source: the embedding of antiquated conceptions of sexual activity in our nation’s laws. Title V of the ?Social Security Act dictates that a?school’s program must “teach the ?social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual ?activity; that a monogamous marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity; that sexual activity outside marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects; that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, ?and society.”

No, you haven’t been dropped into a “Mad Men” spin-off. Our legal system actually believes that extramarital sex is psychologically harmful to society and has taken the liberty of mandating an “expected standard” of sexual activity upon all Americans.

With legislative rhetoric that bears nothing but condescending pity and contempt toward anyone other than those in monogamous marriages, why do we still act shocked when disease and unplanned pregnancies run unwittingly rampant?

If the average teen is becoming sexually active at age 17, telling them not to and then expecting them to remain childless, disease-free virgins is like expecting a mud hut to withstand a tidal wave. Sooner or later, reality will ?rush in.

Right now, that reality is drowning these unaware young Americans and will continue to put them at severe risk until we invest time and resources into teaching students how to equip themselves with a reliable vessel to navigate the often-intimidating waters of ?sexuality. God forbid, maybe they’ll even have some fun and learn something about themselves along the way.

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