Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality
Today is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day. Last night I took part in a live twitter chat with STEPPS Boston an organization designed to help teen parents and to remove the stigma off those of us who found ourselves pregnant before 20. I am pretty sure I was the oldest person on there; weighing in at 40 with a 22-year-old daughter, I suspect I was the hag of the crowd.
This provides some advantages. I saw tweets from young moms about the difference between becoming a parent at 16 versus 19, the importance of a support network and the fact that none of us thought WE would be the ones to get knocked up in our teens. I could offer my Methusalah-like wisdom to the pot.
But the most important question to me was about what kind of sex-education the other ladies and I received when we were kids; both from our parents and our schools.
Here is how my sex education went:
Home: None (Catholics)
School: 5th Grade, Mrs. Piper’s class. Boys were shuttled off to one room, we ladies in the other. The conversation consisted of some basic anatomy (I think?) brief explanation of our monthly ladytime and was rounded out with a brief discussion on boobs and bras.
Being 100 years old, I was surprised to see that many of the young women had similar experiences with sexual education today. Now, do I think being properly instructed on sex, reproduction, anatomy, contraception and the benefits of remaining abstinent would have prevented me from becoming a teen mom. Probably not. But how can I know?
I have done heaps of researching into the ab-only-until marriage business. And let’s be clear, there is a gravy train attached to ab-only stretching back decades and over a billion dollars. So, the sad irony of today’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day is that President Obama just raised Heritage Keepers to the level of “evidence based” sexual education program.
When I read the story on RH Reality Check, I was stunned. I am unclear how this came round? I am just digging into it today and will post follow ups as I learn more. In the meantime here’s just a bit of what Heritage Keepers is about (From RH Reality Check):
Igniting Fears and Spreading Misinformation
In fact, Heritage Keepers contains little or no information about puberty, anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases, or sexual behavior. Instead, most of its lessons are devoted to promoting the importance of heterosexual marriage and the value of abstinence before marriage. Students are asked to take virginity pledges and class time is devoted to having students envision and plan their wedding days. Heritage Keepers also teaches students that:
And my all-time favorite (and ab-only standby) the in-school wedding!
When planning their weddings during class: