Friday, February 09, 2007

Sex: Good or Bad, It's Not Just for Marriage Anymore

According to a Greeley nurse (I'm not naming names and that doesn't mean I'm relying on gossip; it just means I know when to keep my mouth shut to protect people), Shelly Donahue recently gave a presentation to a Greeley church in hopes of bringing her program to the youth group. Donahue is a national trainer for WAIT (Why Am I Tempted) Training, that disturbing abstinence-only-until-marriage program that tried to take over our schools' healthy sexuality curriculum not long ago. If ever there was a program with an agenda, it's WAIT. Its curriculum would be laughable if its developers weren't serious. But seeing as how they are, the contents pass beyond laughable to dangerous. Beyond dangerous to deadly.

Anyway, Donahue reportedly told the congregation that the new HPV vaccine for girls will leave them sterile. The vaccine, Gardisal, helps protect females from four forms of HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to sterility (maybe Donahue was just confused between the vaccine and the disease?). In the eyes of WAIT, such a vaccine puts young people on the fast track to being sexually active, if not permiscuous. It encourages them to shed their morals for physical gratification. It is evil.

This is just one example of why I was and will remain a vocal opponent of WAIT Training in its entirety. In my opinion and those of others who would be forced to teach it or whose children would be assaulted with it, WAIT is a program based on fear and rife with medical and scientific inaccuracies. It does not educate, it preaches. It does not inform, it moralizes and demoralizes. In the very students it excludes from its audience, it discriminates. My conclusion, after reading the program's training manual word for word, is that it is not a curriculum that would be of service to Windsor students.

I believe a healthy sexuality curriculum would be just one facet of a much larger, comprehensive health and wellness program that would also encompass nutrition, exercise/fitness, healthy lifestyle choices of all kinds, and body image. Peel away all the categories and labels, wade through the semantics, and I believe the basis can be simplified into one skill: the ability to say No.

No to drugs and alcohol, to sex, to overeating and indulging unhealthy habits. No to the media, who consistently get in the faces of our teens--indeed, our elementary-aged kids--and tell them they must look a certain way to be happy, successful, envied, normal. No to doing anything they do not want to do, for whatever reason, or for no reason at all.

By teaching our kids to refuse that which doesn't feel right or which threatens them in any way, we are also teaching them to say Yes to those opportunities that present positive experiences. No, yes. They go hand-in-hand.

And we would be seriously remiss if we don't at least begin to touch on mental health. Today's troubled teens don't need someone's barely disguised edict of salvation in the form of abstinence until marriage. Sex is just one component of what might be troubling these young people who drink to forget, smoke or shoot up to numb themselves, cut themselves in ways that leave more than just physical scars. They're tuning out, and we can't possibly believe that the solution lies in telling them that the best sex takes place between married couples (recent secular surveys indicate married couples have MORE sex, but who knows if it's better? If waiting for marriage to have sex is where it's at, then how would anyone know if it's better than sex between singles? Check out this 2006 survey [esp. the last bullet]: and that they'll be forever sterile if they take a preventive vaccine.

I filled out an application to serve on Windsor's volunteer health curriculum advisory board. Knowing full well I'm not the school board's darling by any stretch of the imagination and so might be wasting my time, I figured it was worth the few minutes it took to fill in the blanks. I want to have input into what these kids will be told. So many of them are not being engaged in dialogue at home that needs to take place; yet they so desperately need to hear what isn't being said.

Windsor is not above or beyond the reality of the twenty-first century. We can't stick our heads in the sand any longer. Do I think abstinence during the teen years is best? Absolutely. But I'm enough of a realist to acknowledge that not everyone will make that choice, no matter what they're told. The decision to have sex is not a moral one, and we can't effectively talk about it as long as we view it as such. School is for education; morality must begin in the home.

And hopefully, they'll meet somewhere in the middle.


Anonymous said...

Another awesome article that needs to reach the public!! I fear that that health curriculum will be made up of the same group/mentality of parents who introduced that horrible WAIT program to Windsor in the first place. I sincerely hope you are on the committee so that we have at least one voice of reason there!
I really don't understand how WAIT and Shelly Donahue can get away with preaching (notice I did not say "teaching") incorrect information. Next thing you know, there will be a new curriculum that espouses that the world IS flat and the whole town will jump aboard and adopt it as the truth for without researching its validity or lack thereof!
Its no wonder this town's youth have such a drug and alcohol problem when the parents are so naive.

Judith said...

I can't think of anything I'd add to what you've written.
Keep up the good and necessary fight.
The ignorance and scare tactics you wrote about are appaling.

Anonymous said...

As a woman and a scientist, it terrifies me to hear these accounts of people spreading false information about Gardasil. What scares me even more is that there are people who hear this information and believe it without ever getting the facts for themselves. Does anyone realize how ridiculous the idea of Gardasil making women sterile is? Yeah, that's right its a mass sterilization campaign! Give me a break!!
People need to stop being sheep and THINK FOR THEMSELVES!
Thanks (once again Becky) for being a voice of reason amidst all the insanity!

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