Blog: The Educated Reporter

The abstinence artifice.

I am late to weigh in on the abstinence sex ed study that received so much coverage last week. Without hashing it out in detail, I will say only this: Have you ever visited a sex ed class? If you are an education reporter, you really should.Having sat through many of these classes in two years immersed in middle schools, it always struck me that advocates sneakily and successfully set up a false debate, which sounded something like this: Either you are teaching children to abstain till marriage, or you are teaching them how to perform oral sex. I have never visited an abstinence-only class, but you wouldn’t know it from the way almost any teacher talks. They carefully avoid moral questions (“I can’t answer that; ask your parents,” again and again) and always, always suggest that not having sex is the very best way to avoid any of the complications they warn you about.

My favorite part of sex ed is when the teacher reads the questions slipped into the secret box. It might be my favorite scene in Not Much Just Chillin’. Page 238, or go on Amazon and search inside the book for “estrogen.” Or “PMS.” Or “roller coaster.”



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