Raise Your Hand If You Want Permission To Know Something

April 30, 2006 | By | 2 Replies More

The Missouri legislature is entertaining a bill that would require a signed permission from a student’s parent(s) before the student may receive sex education.

A few weeks ago, while listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR, I learned that, according to recent polls, Americans exhibit NO MAJORITY CONSENSUS on the issue of sex eductaion.  In other words, while majority opinions concerning abortion (60% believe if should remain legal), cohabitation (over 70% believe living together is not a bad idea as prelude to marriage), birth control (close to 80% believe this is a personal choice and a matter of privacy), there is no single group over 20% on any opinion about sex education.  In other words, the state of sex education in this country as a matter of public policy is in a mess because people themselves are nothing but confused about it.  We can’t find a 51% majority anywhere on when to start it, whether to start it, what should be in it, who should receive it.

Back when John Ashcroft was governor of Missouri, he solicited a report on this matter.  The agency (I believe it was Health and Human Services) issued its report concluding that the most effective program was a combination of early sex education combined with easy access for students to on campus clinics.  The report also concluded that “abstinence only” programs DO NOT WORK.  (Seems kids–like humans of any age–are contrary little buggers who insist on digging into the things adults try to hide from them.)  Ashcroft locked the report in a room and refused to distribute it.  He didn’t like those conclusions.  He had already decided that children should not receive such education.  They might “get ideas” and start having sex.  Not that they weren’t already, but at least when the girls got pregnant–or, more appropriately, in an old time idiom, “got caught”–you knew what they were doing and you could punish them.

In the United Kingdom, the state mandates sex education, beginning at the equivalent of our fourth or fifth grade.  Parochial schools as well as secular state schools must administer the program.  Cause and effect can be difficult to trace in such things, but let it be recognized that abortion rates in the UK, as well as in most of Western Europe, are much much lower than they are here.

A personal anecdote:  I attended a parochial grade school.  When I was in sixth grade, the school board decided to look into the matter of a sex education program.  They found one they thought appropriate and put it before the PTA.  My mother told me later that it was tasteful, informative, not the least offensive (to her), and she–along with one other parent–voted for it.  One other parent.  Everyone else said NO.  They didn’t want their children learning about it outside the home.

One of the girls in my class was pregnant by 8th grade.  Two more that I know of did not finish high school because of pregnancy.

I have concluded on my own, in no very scientific way, that parents who vote No on such things do not then tell their children anything (except perhaps a warning not to “do that”).  Therefore, if this bill passes, it would be interesting to learn how many students get signed permission slips and how many do not.  We will then have a pretty good idea how many kids will end up understanding virtually nothing about sex and will be accidents waiting to happen.

(Rhetorical question follows)

What IS IT with people?

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Category: Culture, Politics, Sex, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (2)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    You would THINK that a society would put a priority on figuring out how to educate its citizens such that all babies are wanted babies. More specifically, you would THINK that the citizens would insist on having freely available knowledge to enabling them to

    A) Have babies if they want them, and

    B) Keep from having babies if they don't want them.

    I don't really have an answer to your rhetorical question, but I DO personally know people who lose sleep worrying that somewhere in the world some people are actually using birth control devices that enable them to experience sexual pleasure without much risk of getting pregnant. I don't see a problem with this type of event, at least among consenting adults, but for many people worry-free sex is the pinnacle of all that is wrong with America.

  2. Jason Rayl says:

    Indeed. It doesn't come from any rational perception of the world. But I have encountered people who find any activity which is entirely pleasure-based something to be questioned, suspected, and villified. Since most activities do seem to have connection to…um…Purpose, this suspicion doesn't manifest nearly as strongly as in the case of childless sex, but it is there, i.e., reading for pleasure (waste of time!), afternoon naps (burning daylight!), epicurean indulgence (glutton!), and so forth. This is something we've inherited from the days of the Great Awakening, back in the 1820s, a period that gave us Mormonism and Southern Baptists and a religious embrace of mercantilism. Such people don't seem to realize that their own pursuit of condemning others is in itself a nonproductive personal pleasure, and therefore a form of–imagine this!–moralistic hedonism.

    To be fair, though, some folks are just worried about their children. They don't want them doing things that might hurt them. By extension, they don't want the world to be hurtful place. That's most parents, I think, certainly, but a few don't seem to realize that the only thing they can do with any effectiveness is prepare their children, arm them with knowledge, and hope their car doesn't stall on a railroad crossing.

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