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Womens Writes~ A Need to Know by Mikael
April 5, 2010, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Health, Open, Sessual Side, Stories, Utah

Women's Writes

Last week, I found a post on Shine’s blog about women getting together and writing a blog about something directly concerning women’s right’s and issues when she heard about the new criminal homicide and abortion amendments bill passed in Utah (which I completely disagree with).  Well, today is the day for women to speak up.  I may not talk about this kind of stuff often, so brace yourself.  My opinions are very strong on this topic.  Here’s my story:

My mom has always told me, “I’ll love you no matter what you choose to do. But if you do have sex before marriage, use a condom. Get on the pill. Do whatever you need to make sure you stay safe.” 

In middle school, my health teacher recommended preached abstinence to the class. Of course, she did.  We are in Utah, aka Mormonville.  Sex before marriage is a sin to those completely devoted to the church (which is a helluva lot of them).  As we all know, this is a completely unrealistic approach.  If you say to a teenager that they can’t do something, you’re inviting them to try.  You make it a thousand times more tempting (like when a guy tells me that I’ll be in trouble if I nibble their ear… yeah, temptation in chocolate form).  And they’ll do it.  Unsafely if not taught properly.

One particular day where we were talking about sex and waiting for marriage in order to prevent STD’s, my hand shot up because I, unlike most of the other students, did not grow up Mormon and had known about sex since I was 7 (and my Mormon Grandma was the first to discover that much to her horror). 

“And if you want to have sex before marriage, use a condom,” were the exact words out of my mouth because my teacher never mentioned anything with regards as to what to do if you want to have sex beforehand. 

My teacher stared down at me and said, “Mikael, come speak to me after class.” 

I knew I was right!  So I couldn’t see why she wanted to talk to me.  She seemed angry though.  When the rest of the class had left, she turned to me.

“I’m not allowed to talk about what you mentioned today. I could lose my job. Don’t bring it up in class again.”

Um, excuse me… WHAT?! I’m going to quote the article I linked to above about the new bill in Utah here:

Ironically, just three days after Utah’s House and Senate overwhelmingly passed Rep. Wimmer’s Criminal Homicide and Abortion Amendments bill, the Senate refused to even debate legislation that would have allowed teachers to provide comprehensive sex education to students who had their parent’s permission. Current state law says teachers can’t advocate or endorse the use of contraceptive methods or devices, according to Bird. 

“If you teach about chlamydia, you’re allowed to say, ‘This is a condom and this is chlamydia.’ The law [that was denied] would have allowed teachers to say, ‘If you’re having sex, you can use a condom to prevent chlamydia. Abstinence is the best way, but if you’re not abstinent, use a condom.’”

And you wonder why Utah has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates and why chlamydia is more likely to spread than chicken pox… Our sex education is intensely flawed here.  And I’m almost sure it’s because the LDS church is so involved in our government when it shouldn’t be.  The LDS closed mind approach (that is in Utah) when it comes to sex, drugs, and alcohol is laughable but insanely scary.

You know how in some movies, sex ed classes are depicted as students being given a banana to practice putting a condom on it?  Utah does not do anything like this.  The way I learned to apply a condom was reading the packages on the ones I found and bought at 7-11 when I was 18 and graduated from high school, and even then I was a little confused with the application process (let me tell you how fun that was trying it out for the first time… *insert eye roll*).

Comprehensive sex education needs to be available to everyone everywhere–particularly young men and women.  It should not be up to the parents discretion whether their kids learn about it or not.  I mean no disrespect to the parents reading this, but teenagers need to know the risks and the ways to protect themselves.

Let’s hope Utah can screw its head on straight about this issue sometime soon and cover it! (all puns intended)

This post was pre-written and scheduled for today so I wouldn’t forget about it.

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9 Comments so far
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Glad you posted about this. That was actually the part of that article I found most horrifying. But the worst of it is, schools receive federal funds based on NOT teaching kids about safe sex. Thanks, W. More than that, it just got renewed in the health care bill. By Obama. It’s so sad and ridiculous.

I will post your link in the morning, but I’m at home without Internet right now. Thanks for writing today!

Comment by shine

What is it about the right wing not wanted to advocate at least safe sex since abstinence isn’t fireproof? That’s messed up about our own tax dollars paying for that… I didn’t know that part got renewed with Obama. That kind of pisses me off even more now.
Thank you, shine!

Comment by Mikael

I love you, but disagree with one thing: the church advocates abstinence, but I don’t think it’s the high leaders that’re putting pressure on the government. I think it’s the stupid legislators that want to be re-elected and so do the most right wing thing they can think of because they think it will make sheeple love them. Most people (and most people here tend to be Mormon) are sheeple, but please don’t blame it on the church leaders, blame it on the sheeple.

One more thing: I think a good deal of responsibility should be on parents too!

Comment by sheadaisy

Sheeple? Never heard that term before, but I like it. I just think it’s because of the church’s *influence* that this restriction happens. I never actually put the blame on the leaders themselves. Should have clarified that better…
I agree that a lot of responsibility should be on the parents… But do you remember in middle and high school, how there would be disclosure forms asking if the parents wanted the school to teach their kids about sex ed? I’m just saying, I don’t think that should be an option, giving the parents the say whether or not they learn (since some parents don’t say anything at all because they think not bringing it up won’t put it into their kids minds or some messed up thing like that). ….
Hehe, is it bad that I was kind of hoping for a debate to break out in my comments with this post?
Love ya Shea! Thanks for your thoughts babe! =)

Comment by Mikael

I’ve never been able to fathom the fact that an educational system that so blindly and adamantly preaches (as you so aptly put it) abstinence would also have [expensive as hell] daycare centers in their high schools.

If I’m not mistaken, I believe Utah has a relatively high number of teenage pregnancies. Golly gee, I wonder why.
Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves, and resolve to educate our own children, much as your mother did for you.

Comment by M.J.

The problem with that line of thinking is that they just use escalated numbers to strike fear in the hearts of other little girls. Because only the “bad” girls who didn’t do what they were supposed to end up that way. And you don’t want to be a “bad” girl, do you?

I recommend checking out “The Purity Myth.” The section on abstinence only ed will make you cringe.

Comment by shine

I agree that there needs to be more options. Teaching abstinence is not what the only way, and may be preferred by parents. This topic has moved me to research a little.
I first looked to see what the LDS church’s stance was on sexual education. In short, the LDS church does say that sexual education should not be heard by a child firstly in a school. The LDS Church also teaches that it is a commandment of God that Parents teach their children while they are young (ie the first time they ask where babies come from so around 5-9ish) The LDS church states to teach a child in accordance to their age, not to descriptive to young children but to help them at least understand a baby doesn’t come from the sky. For teens it is of course needed to be descriptive and help them understand the feeling and actions of sexuality. Though I could not find anything relating to the church stating that parents teach their children about forms of birth control, I did find an article from the LDS Church regarding a community here in Utah where individuals in the community thought the current stance of Sex Ed in schools did not teach enough about contraceptives. A comity was put together, mast members of the church, they were tasked with researching and finding a way to meet the needs of everybody in the community. It was then allowed for contraceptives to taught as part of sex education in the higher levels of school. The community was satisfied for the most part and not once did the LDS Church interfere with the community’s decision.
Secondly I researched for facts surrounding this topic; I do this for everything I look into (as you can see from above even for my own religion.) I found that in the most recent statistical data collected which covers 1972 – 2006 that teen pregnancy has declined, in some instances, greatly. I am aware that between 2006 and now that there may be some increase and some decreasing in many areas, however, trends tend to stay the same when it comes to stated rankings. The study done for these statistics also looked into the reasons for the decline of teen pregnancy, 25% because of abstinence and 75% because of birth control. Obviously both methods have contributed to reducing teen pregnancy, and obviously contraceptives proved very effective. So yes, teaching about contraceptives would be a wise decision, where that is to be taught will be and forever should be up to the people who vote.
In my endeavors and study on this topic, I found the state statistics for teen pregnancies. Overall Utah ranked 45 showing that teens ages 18-19 have one of the lowest pregnancy rates in the nation. Though trends do change, it is unlikely that they would change so drastically in only 3 years as to have Utah ranked at the top of the teen pregnancy rates.
As I said before, I agree that there is indeed a need for change, but let us build off what we already have. Any teen pregnancy is a teen pregnancy that could have been prevented with proper education about sex. Now it is time for the community to come together and figure out how we can prevent more teen pregnancies, maybe then the state will start to listen to us.
Here are links to my resources:
http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/USTPtrends.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_incidence_of_teenage_pregnancy#cite_note-guttermacher-11
http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=80fabe335dc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=e1fa5f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD
http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=93d7d0640b96b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

Comment by Jordan

I heard about this on the radio yesterday and was telling Jed about it last night. Kudos to you for speaking up! Considering the number of states where I’ve lived (PA, GA, CA, Wash DC)…I have to agree 100% with your assessment that this is due to the influence of the church…no question.

Comment by Cinnamon

In my high school they just touched on a few of the basics of sex ed, but you could take an elective class where they would go more in depth with it. I wasn’t there the day they practiced putting a condom on a wooden statue of a penis (DIES LAUGHING). I think they called it ‘the big woody’? But anyway…

I’ve been thinking about this lately. When my son is getting to ‘that age’ (kids are learning younger and younger all the time, so who knows when that age will be) we decided to educate him ourselves. Even though its kind of embarrassing for parents, they need to tell their kids about that stuff and not trust the schools to tell them what they need to know. Abstinence. HA

Comment by Angie




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