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Friday, December 17, 2004

Knocking Knees 101

A sex-education flap has recently occured in the US. Now, I've heard a rumour that they have this whole religion/politics-not mixing thing going on in their constitution, but you know what? I don't buy it.

We all know it’s a load of crap. The reality is that the Republican party alternates between governing on its knees and leading from the pulpit, and their approach to sex (mis)education is the perfect example.

But, hey, don’t just take my word for it. Here's the link where you can read the damning study conducted by Congressman Henry Waxman on the damaging effects of the recent spate of “abstinence-only” sexual education programs in American schools.

Just a few of the absurd tidbits being taught under these new Bush-pushed programs:

1. Heterosexual kids keep having sex, and even though they’re using condoms, 31% of the time those condoms are failing to prevent transmission of HIV. Yeah, that latex is so darn sieve-y.
2. Tears and saliva can readily transmit HIV. Uh-huh.
3. One out of every seven sexual counters in which condoms are used will result in pregnancy. Boy, I sure know a lot of anomalies. Including me.
4. Mutual masturbation sans intercourse can make babies. Is a comment even necessary?
5. Apparently science has now officially proven that life begins at conception. Them fetuses are even, apparently, creating fully formed thoughts by the 43rd day of their term. And, what, filing taxes by birth?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Teen sex is a craze. Epidemic. Oh, the amorality of it all.

Well, I can understand the concern about kids knocking knees just for kicks. Gives a whole new meaning to "After School Special," you know. Personally, I figure 15-year-olds should probably be watching Smallville reruns, not twisting titties in the rec room.

That said, you don’t go and tell them the worst-case scenario that their sexual forays might result in. You’re guaranteeing that when things do go wrong (contracting STDs, getting knocked up), they’ll react in shame instead of enacting responsible measures to deal with their situations. This sort of fear-mongering isn't some Band-aid you slap on amoral behaviour with the expectation it'll be a cure-all. Are these people getting oxygen, or what?

Aside from the right-wing fervour fuelling these lessons are the jaw-dropping ignorance and prejudism behind the stunningly wrong stats on AIDS and HIV.

It's true, AIDS is one of the most terrifying health issues facing us today. We have entered a dangerous phase of complacency as many of us have reduced our levels of vigilancy, and that’s an issue that needs to be addressed. This is especially so now that the rates of transmission are increasing at alarming rates world-wide, including the infection rates for females in North America, and no relief is in sight.

Certainly, the transmission of this virus is a danger that needs to be taught to every person, but it needs to be taught accurately, and without social biases. To blow things out of proportion as these “educators” have done not only demeans the caution with which we must face this disease, but also results in the paranoia towards, and the ostracising of, the victims of this virus.

I haven’t even touched on the study's disturbing inferences that some 50% of gay teens have AIDS. With 30% of gay teens either considering suicide or acting on those considerations, I doubt this kind of bullshit stat is going to help them through their difficult process of self-discovery.

All this leaves me thinking back to the fear and indoctrinization I experienced as a child in the Catholic church. It's safe to say that I’ve spent much of my life cloaked in feelings of guilt and inadequacy. My childhood religious roots are largely to blame, since my exposure to the church was essentially a 15-year discourse on fear. That the current American administration seems content to rule and educate under the same sort of mentality is alarming.

It’s always so sadly ironic when “education” becomes a breeding ground for ignorance.