Alex Blaze

Students stand up to abstinence-only education

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 04, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: abstinence only education, comprehensive sex education, operation keepsake, parma, sex education

Two students at Parma High School in Ohio couldn't take the fact that they were being subjected to Operation Keepsake, a standard-issue "just say no" abstinence-only program, so they took their concerns to the school board.

"Operation Keepsake has made me question education as a whole, for while they scared us into understanding what could go wrong, they afforded us no information on how things could go right," he said. "On how to protect ourselves, on the effectiveness of contraception, and empowering us with knowledge to make the right decisions before making the wrong ones."[...]

"As a gay student," he asked, "how can I be expected to uphold a standard of abstinence until marriage when I live in a state where I cannot marry?"

Well, you have a choice between lifelong celibacy, dying, and lying to a woman, closing your eyes really tight, and thinking about hot boys. The right calls these choices "loving the sinner while hating the sin." In fact, in between telling you exactly what to do with your sex life and making sure you either get locked in a marriage when you're too young to decide for yourself out of sexual frustration, these folks are known to write their first name followed by "Freedom" in curly-Q's on the cover of their journals.

Incoherence. It's how they roll.

His classmate also spoke:

Daniel's classmate, 16-year-old Jelena Loncar, borrowed from Operation Keepsake's own language to blast the curriculum for promoting gender stereotypes.

"I personally don't view men as predators or protectors," she said. "And I certainly don't view myself as a treasure or a target. I found it insulting and undermining that Operation Keepsake reduced me to a social stereotype."

At least you're a social stereotype! Soon, in their eyes, you'll be nothing but a sexual object. Then a uterus on legs. Then a peasant who should choose between medication, food or just dying quickly.

It's great that these teens are speaking out. The school is more concerned with controlling them to be bothered with educating them, and that isn't going to change by relying on their parents, who are often excited scared by the thought of teen sexuality and see it as a weed to be eradicated.

Speaking out is the opposite of these programs, which are based in authoritarianism and are the antithesis of democracy, much like the "Don't dress slutty or you'll get raped" pamphlet I posted about yesterday. Abstinence-only folks themselves are much more comfortable speaking at teens than actually talking with them:

Daniel told the board that, for 19 months, he has been unable to meet or even speak with those responsible for making decisions about how he and his classmates learn about sex, despite his dozens of letters, phone calls and e-mails.

Anyway, tooling around on Operation Keepsake's website reading some weird stuff, I found this:

Ways to say no with your mouth:

Tell your BF/GF your boundaries right away.
Make a promise to each other (e.g., "We promise to respect each other's boundaries.").
Things getting too 'hot in here'. Remind your BF/GF of your boundaries.
Feeling pressured? Tell your BF/GF "No" without any apologies.
Don't be afraid to say, "I don't want to do this."
Tell them, "I'm not ready to be a mother or father, so I'm not ready to have sex."
Be firm: "I made my choice and I'm sticking to it."
Feeling trapped? Parents are a great out: "I think I hear my dad calling me."

Ways to say no with your body:

Dress appropriately.
Duck tape your clothes onto your body (okay, this might be a little extreme).
Don't shower...strange body odor will definitely keep aggressive dates away (although it may keep more than your date away).
Wear something to remind you of your decision (like a bracelet or a necklace).
Don't be alone with someone you don't know or don't completely trust.
Give them a look.
Don't throw yourself at people.
Walk away (make sure you have a cell phone or money to call home).

Ha ha ha, just don't shower and you won't get raped! Because rapists don't like smelly victims! Isn't that funny?

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Good for them. That whole "Stay abstinent until you get married. Oh, but we're not going to allow you to get married" bullshit always pisses me off too.

"Don't be alone with someone you don't know or don't completely trust."

Because rapists are always strangers, amiright?!

If you need that many ways to say no, or elaborate schemes like duct tape or not showering in order to prevent your partner from raping you, I think you might have an entirely different problem on your hands.

Also, teaching how to assert your boundaries and have them respected seems like a very different thing than teaching what boundaries youth should or shouldn't have. I always thought it was weird and ineffective that abstinence education would talk about how you should make decisions by yourself and not be influenced by peer-pressure, and then try to make decisions for you and influence you through authority-figure-pressure.

My son is a Parma High student and I am extreme upset that this is what they are teaching my son in school. Although he and I have discussed sex many times and the reasons why he should wait, I have also personally educated him on condoms and the importance of protecting yourself. But for the school to have a program that states "don't take a shower", etc... I think I have to have a talk with my son to see if he was told this and if he was I will be contacting the principal and then the board of education because that information is not correct. I'm almost afraid to ask what they teach him at school now.