Favorite

Sex-ed needed 

click to enlarge bus.jpg

Sex education in Arkansas is bonkers. Ginny Monk's recent article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "85 percent of schools in Arkansas tell kids to say no to sex" reports the results of a survey of all of the sex education being taught at all school districts in the state. With the exception of a few bright spots, including the existence of local groups lobbying for implementing comprehensive sex education statewide, too many schools are either ignoring the subject all together or pushing abstinence-based sex education. Anyone who really remembers what those teenage years are like or who spends real time around teenagers understands abstinence-only education is a pitiful exercise in futility and the statistics reflect that. Monk's article points out that Arkansas has one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation and that schools are using curriculum that includes descriptions of boys being like waffles and girls being like spaghetti, virginity being as precious as a diamond ring and youths who are "uneducated bunnies."

The bunny part is spot on. Although, I wouldn't call these youths "uneducated." I'd call them, to borrow a term from Lauryn Hill, "miseducated," especially if they get their sex education from other kids on the school bus. Most of the naughty things I learned growing up, I learned on the bus. Usually on the ride home from school. Not sure if it was because everyone was still half asleep in the mornings or if the kids somehow had an innate understanding of the impropriety of blue language early in the day. Either way, the ride home seemed to get pretty salty sometimes.

When I was in seventh grade, I learned how to flip the bird on the bus. I'd watched people doing it on television and around town, and it seemed like the thing to master, but the few times I tried it alone in my room, I couldn't get it too look right. The older kids on the bus effortlessly flipped each other off constantly, so I began to really pay attention to what they were doing with their fingers and realized it was less about what the middle finger was doing and more about having the proper bend in the side fingers. My seatmate, who also struggled, practiced with me until, a week later, we were middle finger flipping professionals. Since language at my house was heavily patrolled by my mom, especially when friends were visiting, mastering this silent insult was a game-changer.

In addition to obscene gestures, sex was a common topic on the bus. Kids teasing other kids about doing things to each other using words I had never heard and acts that, frankly, seemed entirely impossible to me in my naivety. The bus was the first place I saw a condom. It was the first place I saw a pornographic magazine. It was the first place I saw two people French kissing in real life. I learned a lot on the bus. I'll tell you where I didn't learn much: sex education. I remember our science teacher talking about menstruation and childbirth, but if I had any real, substantial quality sex education, I cannot remember it. I'd imagine like many Arkansans, a coach reluctantly taught sex-ed as part of health class. Whatever they taught me at school was overshadowed by what I learned on the bus.

Now, I don't know if the bus is such an influential place anymore. Most kids have a phone with access to the internet 24-7. Kids can watch movies and shows on demand that used to only be on late at night. But, according to Monk's article, chances are the kids are still not learning the science and facts at school or at home they need to make good, smart decisions about their own bodies and health.

And, by good, smart decisions, I'm not talking abstinence. Abstinence is fine if that is what is best for that person, but to somehow elevate abstinence above safe sex and science is a problem. Religion needs to be kept out of school-based sex education. This is a health and science issue. Not a moral one. No more talk of virginity being precious and special by teachers. What does that say to the girl or boy in the class who was a victim of sexual assault? That they are worthless? Can we also skip the abstinence and purity pledges at school? They are ineffective, creepy and didn't work for the Jonas Brothers and Bristol Palin. We don't need our kids making any promises or pledges to teachers and school counselors about what they plan to do with their vaginas and penises and other body parts. Just give the kids the facts, the tools for safe sex, and let them decide for themselves what they want to do. It is way past time for comprehensive sex education at every public school in Arkansas. We have to teach our kids about the birds and bees just as we teach them about science and math, and I think we can all agree, the bus is no place for that type of learning.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Sex Education

  • U.S. schools falling short on sex education

    December 9, 2015
    A new survey indicates large numbers of public schools aren't providing comprehensive sex education. Arkansas marks in the study are mixed. /more/
  • House committee defeats Planned Parenthood punishment bill

    April 17, 2013
    The Senate bill aimed at cutting off money to Planned Parenthood failed in a House committee this morning on a roll call vote. /more/
  • Blanche Lincoln speaks out for rights of Arkansas women

    April 12, 2013
    It's a measure of how cynical people had become about former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln that an opinion piece she's posted on Huffington Post has people wondering what her ulterior motive might be. /more/
  • Abstinence-only sex education is a flop

    November 30, 2011
    This is by no means the first report with similar findings, but it never hurts to attempt to penetrate Arkansas legislative skulls with facts that challenge their wishful thinking: From researchers at the University of Georgia: States that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programs in public schools have significantly higher teenage pregnancy and birth rates than states with more comprehensive sex education programs, researchers from the University of Georgia have determined. /more/
  • Too much tolerance?

    November 7, 2010
    And why do I think this subject lies ahead for Arkansas? Efforts to prevent bullying of gay school children by better education is sparking protests that such education "promotes the homosexual agenda." /more/
  • More »

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Autumn Tolbert

  • Trust and obey

    This past week marked an anniversary of sorts for the country. A year ago, the Access Hollywood audiotape of then-candidate Donald Trump claiming to get away with sexually assaulting women finally exposed the truth about man the GOP had chosen as the nominee.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Time for a coalition

    While Hurricane Trump wreaks havoc on everything that is good and decent and democratic, another storm in the Democratic Party just won't let up. Many of us hoped the turmoil between Hillary Clinton's supporters and Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters had finally subsided as both groups rallied together over the past few months to fight draconian changes in health care policy and the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
    • Sep 14, 2017
  • Cotton's plan

    With the amount of recent hand-wringing by the Republican Party, you'd think its members were getting ready to do something. It seems that every week, one or more GOP members of Congress come out with a statement denouncing the words or actions of President Trump or his supporters.
    • Aug 31, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Wrasslin' Trump

    I first thought the Sunday morning video clip of President Trump wrestling was something from one of the many parody accounts on Twitter.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
    • Jul 20, 2017

Most Shared

Latest in Autumn Tolbert

  • Trust and obey

    This past week marked an anniversary of sorts for the country. A year ago, the Access Hollywood audiotape of then-candidate Donald Trump claiming to get away with sexually assaulting women finally exposed the truth about man the GOP had chosen as the nominee.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Time for a coalition

    While Hurricane Trump wreaks havoc on everything that is good and decent and democratic, another storm in the Democratic Party just won't let up. Many of us hoped the turmoil between Hillary Clinton's supporters and Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters had finally subsided as both groups rallied together over the past few months to fight draconian changes in health care policy and the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
    • Sep 14, 2017
  • Cotton's plan

    With the amount of recent hand-wringing by the Republican Party, you'd think its members were getting ready to do something. It seems that every week, one or more GOP members of Congress come out with a statement denouncing the words or actions of President Trump or his supporters.
    • Aug 31, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Trust and obey

    • A very timely and beautifully written piece. Indeed, the whole frightening paradigm is about preserving…

    • on October 15, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation