Monday, October 15, 2012

 Cy-Fair ISD revises sex-education program after parent concerns

 From the Houston Chronicle:

Some parents objected to seventh-graders being exposed to explicit descriptions of anal and oral sex, older actors in provocative situations and an interactive presentation that details different forms of contraception. The interactive cites "choosing to wait" as the most effective choice and "hope" as the least effective, and it includes details about protection against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

"There's content in almost every single lesson that is objectionable," said Christine Kalmbach, a parent of a seventh-grade student, who started the online petition.

In materials distributed to parents, the district said it provided information about anal, oral and vaginal sex because all of these practices can cause STDs, and the state requires that it provide information about such risks. That lesson will remain in seventh-grade classes.


Cy-Fair is among 15 Texas school districts or charter schools that use UT's sex-education program, according to data collected by the district. Most Texas school districts teach abstinence-only programs.

Susan Tortolero, director of the UT program, said the more teens know about sex, the less likely they are to engage in it.

Tortolero said the district came to a good compromise with the critical parents by moving back the last few lessons. She said the program has not generated similar backlash to Cy-Fair ISD in any other districts using it.

More here.

First off, kudos to Cy-Fair for being one of the very few Texas districts to push back against that "abstinence based" wishful thinking crap masquerading as sex education.  And I'm sympathetic to the position in which they find themselves, having to accommodate what amount to psychopaths: school boards are essentially small-time, ultra-local politics, which means that a relative few parents with hairs up their asses can stir up a heap of trouble, as they're apparently doing right now.  This is a decent compromise, given the precarious circumstances.

But it's infuriating that they're having to compromise what is already a compromised position, having to sneak in some comprehensive sex ed under the BS banner of "abstinence."  These parents are crazy.  Or stupid.  Probably both.  Certainly they're deluded.

Quick refresher.  The rise of the mass media many decades ago coupled with the realization of advertisers that sex sells means that the genie is out of the bottle, as far as a sexualized American culture goes, and it's not going back, short of a total reorganization of our nation's economy and a stifling re-imagination of first amendment free speech rights.  That is, American culture is now and forever a sexual culture.  Insisting that the schools teach kids to refrain from sex until marriage is wishful thinking, at best, and frighteningly delusional at worst.  Really, it's all about soothing nervous parents; in no way does this approach accomplish its ostensible goal.  Indeed, "abstinence based" sex education not only sends youths out into the world with unrealistic and potentially dangerous attitudes about sexual relationships, but it also fails to keep people from having sex before marriage.

That is, if kids are even paying attention at all.  And why should they?  They have eyes and ears and definitely notice the culture in which they exist.  When your teacher tells you that you must live differently from how virtually everybody else is living, she might as well be speaking in the droning and meaningless voice of the Peanuts cartoons' Miss Othmar.  But when teachers honestly talk about reality, about the subject that interests students, and pretty much everybody else, the most, kids do listen.  That's why the frankness of Cy-Fair's approach is so extraordinarily important: it tells the truth, and the truth makes a difference.

In addition to our living in the Sexual America era, we also live in the internet pornography era.  Don't be a fool.  Kids see it, and you can't stop it.  When you essentially punt away your responsibility to educate children about sexual health, you hand that task, by default, over to the pornographers.  And while I'm quite fond of pornography myself, I'm horrified by the thought of it being the sole source of sex education for students who have been condemned to the "abstinence" regime.  Because that's really what this controversy in Cy-Fair is all about: a few parents getting all icky regarding their teenagers gaining knowledge of sexual practices they're "too young" to understand.  Believe me, lots and lots of them already have this knowledge, which is why it is so important to make sure that they do, in fact, understand.