In 2007, Kansas updated its archaic “abstinence only” sex education policy to allow schools to offer “abstinence-plus.” Abstinence-plus allowed schools to provide information about birth control and STD’s – while still requiring schools to stress abstinence as the best approach for dealing with sexuality as a teen. This was an important victory for health advocates, as anyone with a brain in their head understands that abstinence-only education is a ridiculous crock of denial. Now – seven years later – the state may be taking a giant step backward in their efforts to offer more comprehensive sex education, thanks to one angry parent.
An odd list titled “How do people express their sexual feelings” was posted to the wall of a sex-ed class in one Kansas middle school. A 13-year-old student took a picture of the list and showed it to her father, Mark Ellis. Mr Ellis brought the list to the press, which created such a controversy that Kansas lawmakers are introducing a bill that will likely backpedal all the progress they made with the 2007 decision.
From Think Progress:
A new GOP-backed bill, sponsored by state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R), would require every student to get parental consent before receiving sex ed instruction. That’s a departure from the current policy, which allows each school district to decide how to handle parental notification. Some of the state’s school districts currently allow parents to “opt out,” and remove their child if they object to the course. But under the new bill, every parent would be required to “opt in” their child instead.
The list was a little strange. It included oral sex, sexual fantasy, caressing, anal sex, dancing, massage, masturbation, holding hands, talking, cuddling on the couch, hugging, touching each other’s genitals, kissing, vaginal intercourse, talking, saying “I like you,” and grinding. Admittedly, it’s all over the place. But seriously – get a grip Mr. Ellis. We have sex ed in schools to educate teenagers about risky behavior and keep them STD and baby-free. Forcing parents to opt children in to sex education because you got all pearl-clutchy over a few descriptive words is ridiculous.
Not all teens are comfortable asking their parents to allow them to enroll in a sex-ed class. We may be placing barriers in front of kids who need these very important resources, and for what? Because one parent can’t come to terms with the fact that his daughter may have sex one day? I guarantee that by the time kids reach their teen years they have been exposed to all these terms – isn’t it better that they are exposed in the context of education? No, I forgot – if we ignore things, they go away. Just say no kids!
“To require parents to opt students in to a sex education class creates an administrative nightmare for school staff, establishes a separate standard for health education than for other courses offered to students, and fails to recognize young people’s right to receive honest, age-appropriate sexual health information that can help them protect their health as they mature,” Debra Hauser, the president of Advocates for Youth, told ThinkProgress. “Politicians should not be creating additional barriers that keep young people from receiving the information they need to protect their health and wellbeing.”