The Life of Bon: Let's talk about sex, baby!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Let's talk about sex, baby!

This is by far the most "risque" and "edgy" thing that I have written on my blog, so I am taking a big breath and diving in head first, hoping not to drown.  Mom, I'm still a good girl.  I promise.

Lately I've been worried.  It started a few weeks ago at lunch when I mentioned jokingly to another teacher that I was going to have to start telling my students to get on birth control (Why I need to tell my students this is a whole different story, but we don't want to go there tonight.)  This teacher, well informed on Utah education, told me that if I did suggest birth control, I might lose my job.  Unaware of Utah's strict adherence to abstinence-only education, I asked her to please elaborate.   Apparently Utah educators are not allowed to teach birth control methods or advocate the use of birth control in any form.  To do so is in violation with the state legislature, and would put an educator's job at risk.  That means that if students ask me a question about birth control, I am not at liberty to answer, and instead must respond, "Ask your parents."

I'm no flaming liberal, but I believe this is wrong.  I am a firm believer of knowledge in all its forms, and that means knowledge of birth control options.  That doesn't mean I approve of premarital sex; it means I oppose teen pregnancy. 

After this disturbing lunch conversation, I went home and googled around for a bit. (P.S.  Isn't it amazing that google is a verb now?) On my quest, I learned a thing or two.  Currently House Bill 363 sponsor Rep. Bill Wright is pushing a bill for abstinence-only education throughout the state.  In the bill, Wright states that "discussing birth control and homosexuality promotes promiscuity among teens and advocates the use of drugs." He believes this legislation is needed to protect "the innocence of students".  (What I wouldn't love to tell old Bill about exactly how innocent my students are.) His original bill bans any "discussion of sexuality except abstinence and fidelity in marriage." His only alternative is "not teaching sex education at all." ( "Utah's own Don't Ask Don't Tell, Sex and Birth Control.") Wright says teaching sexuality isn’t a priority in education. “It is not like all our students are going to die if they don’t learn promiscuous behavior."

Wright's bill passed 8-7.  Meaning that as of right now, Utah presses forward stalwart in their abstinence-only sex education.

Naturally, this raises some questions.  If you don't want a person to engage in certain behavior is it best to completely ignore the behavior and act like it has never existed?  Or is it best to properly educate, even if that means more exposure to the negative behavior?  How about when something like a pregnancy, a baby, a HUMAN LIFE is at stake?  Can we really afford to not educate students because we think that just by mentioning birth control students are more likely to engage in promiscuous behavior?

I hope I am not sending out the wrong message about my beliefs.  I waited for marriage to have sex, and I absolutely believe that that was the right decision.  There is great comfort, security, and love in that decision.  I do not condone premarital sex in any form, and I especially don't condone high school students having sex.  BUT... if I talk to a student about birth control, does that automatically imply that I approve of the sex?  Or does it say that I advocate the proper education of teenagers and the protection of unborn babies? 

What I find most disturbing of all is that it is legal in the state of Utah to have an abortion, but it is illegal for a teacher to suggest to a student to get on birth control.  A little backward, no?

Since when has it ever been in humans' best interest to keep information from them?  Hiding knowledge is never going to improve a problem, and it is never going to be a solution.  The ideal solution would be to have parents teach their children about sex.   "Encourage parents to have ongoing explicit age-appropriate discussions with their children about sex. It is vital that we lift the veil of silence and discomfort. Many parents are naively worried that they will give their children ideas, or somehow corrupt them with facts. The fact is that children are surrounded by sex, lots of bad information, and tons of sexually explicit materials. But it is a proven fact that the more reliable factual knowledge kids have about sex, the more they talk to their parents about sex, the less likely they are to engage in it." (

And if parents do not educate their children, should teachers shoulder that responsibility?    I believe, yes.  Nowadays teachers are already doing and teaching many things that have traditionally been taught in the home, so why do we shy away from this subject? 

Our job it to educate, whatsoever the subject may be.

Now... what do you think about the subject?  Go ahead, add your two cents.  I know you want to.


  1. Wow. You picked a doozy of a topic! As a card-carrying flaming liberal AND a Christian, I totally agree with you. I think sex within marriage is a great decision and one I would actively encourage. Having said that, I will say that I entered my teens EXTREMELY uninformed about sex, about safe sex, about birth control, all of it. Fortunately, I did find ways to educate myself despite not having that education from someone else (my parents included). Studies show that teen pregnancy rates go down in districts that have comprehensive sex education in place. It's ridiculous to think that telling students about something that exists will encourage them to do it. By that logic, we shouldn't talk to students about the Holocaust in history, shouldn't teach Shakespeare (with all that sex and violence) in English and literature classes, shouldn't talk about alcohol consumption in driver's ed classes because knowing about it might encourage students to engage in it. The fact is, a lot of teenagers are going to have sex. They may not be emotionally ready for it but they will. And if we don't give them tools to protect themselves, a mistake in junior high and high school could affect the rest of their lives. I'd much rather know my students were having sex with condoms or the pill than contracting chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, or becoming pregnant. Do I think teenagers should wait to have sex? YES! Do I think they all will? No. It's not about making sex "easier to have." It's about making pre-marital sex, like a host of other mistakes a young person might make, something that a teenager can learn from and MOVE ON from. I'm speaking from personal experience. :)

  2. I don't think your job should be at risk because you talk to them about birth control. Many of times teenagers don't feel comfortable talking to their parents even more so about sex so if they come to you asking for advice and all you can do is tell them to go talk to their parents? That's really sad.....Our state needs to wake up and realize that kids are going to do what they want to do (to a point) and they need to help them, give them choices and let them know of options......

  3. Wow that's intense legislation! Here in New Zealand we all get sex education in school and sometimes at an inappropriately young age.I went to a Christian school and I remember splitting into two rooms girls/guys with a teacher of the same sex and being taught about the mechanical side of it. There was no information about birth control but it was everywhere in the magazines we read and in public bathrooms. I then went to a catholic school and we weren't told anything about sex or contraception, only that abortion was wrong. My parents taught me a bit more but largely we were kept very well informed at school.. When I went to univeristy there was even more out there information, they were giving out jars to pee in for sexualy transmitted disease tests and free condoms.. Wouldn't let me refuse to take them either, til I said "I'm a christian and a i really don't need them."

    Schools here can even give out contraceptive pills, condoms and take students for terminations without any parental consent.
    Polar opposites to the extreme.. What we really need is a healthy middle ground, with information and lots of emphasis about being in healthy and respectful relationships!

  4. Oh, I completely agree! Some teenagers are going to wait until they get married before having sex. Some teenagers are going to wait until they fall in love. Some teenagers aren't going to wait at all. People are different, and think differently, and if we assume that all teenagers are the same (and if we teach them only ONE thing they'll understand it the way we meant them to), we're not giving our future much credit, are we! I think information is key - the more a person knows about the dangers - as well as benefits - about any topic, the better able they are to make the decision that will effect them in a positive way. If teenagers are left in the dark about sex, then the ones who do decide to "do the deed" will be ill-prepared for what they may be getting themselves into. Just because a teenager chooses to be mature enough to engage in a sexual act, does not mean they're mature enough to learn about the consequences of their actions! I think teachers are responsible for picking up the (often large amounts of) slack where parents leave off. It's always been that way, and for good reason - let the educators EDUCATE!

    In England at the school where I taught, students were given 1 1/2 hours of sex-education. TOTAL. And at the age of 12, so that certain things could not be discussed and most were not ready to really listen at that age. If I had a say they'd have one lesson every YEAR, to reiterate the importance of contraception if they do choose to have sex before marriage, to explain the choices they have as both males and females in regards to sex, and to be given information on where to go and who to talk to if they need more information/advice.

    Oh, it just makes me so sad! These poor teenagers aren't growing up any faster than they did twenty years ago - they're just now living in a world where access to information is easier (aka - sex), but we need to help them sort through it!

    And poor you - I would be devastatingly frustrated about it!

  5. Gah! This is such a difficult topic, I'm with you 100% of the way on this one. I understand that some parents want to be the one's who educate their children about sex, but unfortunately some parents just aren't up for the challenge. In my experience withholding information from teens always backfires.

    That doesn't mean sex education should become so detailed that there are condom demonstrations in class, etc, but adolescents should at least be informed about their options and their rights.

    Unfortunately, I doubt that this is something that we as a country will ever be able to agree on, however. People will always have very different opinions. :/


  6. Wow I never knew that about Utah. I am with you on that one and I think students should be informed and aware of what might happen.

    But people will never agree and have different thoughts and opinions. Tis life.

  7. I just say Here! Here! to your post. Not that my opinion matters much, but it is so great just to talk about it. Whatever someone's opinion may be, it is just great that someone is talking about it and getting us all to think about it. Here's to education of children, tweens, and teens in all its many forms.

  8. I think there is a lot of literature out there that provides excellent transitions to the conversation, but no i don't think the responsibility should fall on the teacher. Parents really need to teach their own kids. Sadly, this doesn't happen enough so you'll probably have a huge role in the teaching process.

  9. I guess I didn't realize that the Utah legislation was already abstinence only, but I read that it is now. I think it's completely ridiculous.

    I don't know about you, but I certainly did not talk to my parents about sex EVER and I don't think that the government should assume that parents will talk to their kids about it. I hope to be more communicative with my kids, but coming from the somewhat sheltered background that I did, I don't know everything there is to know about contraception. Some things I learned from TV. Some things I learned from friends. And some things I didn't learn until I was in college and had a roommate who went to Planned Parenthood for a morning after pill because she wasn't careful. And the rest of what I know, I learned from my ob/gyn and figured out after I got married. How is a parent supposed to teach their kids how to best protect themselves if they don't really know much themselves?

    I feel that it is better to overeducate than to under educate. Rep. Wright is an old man from a small, rural Utah town (pop. under 500) and has no idea what kids are really exposed to or how they really act. What sort of qualification does he have to mandate such a law? He was a dairy farmer who had 3 years of college. Maybe he should focus on what he knows: cows. And leave the education of the state's children to the teachers.

  10. Anonymous12:12 PM

    Wow.. Its insane to think that ignorance will promote abstinence. I believe in educating my children. If they aren't going to wait to have sex at least they can wait to have children.

  11. I always have felt it is so much better to educate than ignore. I didn't wait till marriage, but I have only had sex with my husband. When we chose to make that decisions I am so happy we both knew how to protect ourselves and keep from being pregnant. I agree 100% that it is so much easier to prevent the situation rather than deal with an unwanted pregnancy. I feel that this bill being passed is going to raise the unwanted pregnancy rate, and that is sad and scary to me!

  12. We live in scary times these days. Just the other day, my 15 year old daughter told me that there is a girl in her health class who disclosed that she's pregnant and about to have an abortion. So, I say it is of utmost importance to educate...and I mean lay it out there. I've had very open and frank discussions with both of my girls. I want them to know they can come to me with any questions they might have. It's important to keep the lines of communication OPEN. Unfortunately, many kids don't have that with there parents, so I see nothing wrong with teachers stepping in....not to condone, but inform.

  13. Hi Bonnie, thanks for commenting on our blog - and what a first post to read on yours haha!

    We think you say it exactly right - teens will be exposed to sex and sexuality no matter what, so if there aren't responsible adults in these kids' lives to give them the correct information, they are much more likely to do something they might later regret because they were unprepared and uninformed.

    Great post, we love your blog, and are your newest follower! :)

    Laura & Sarah xo

  14. Amen sister! Knowledge is power. I think that the more we try to hide these subjects, the more curious teenagers become...which leads them to get information from not-so-great sources such as their friends or the media. We should embrace these topics in our high schools and in our families - not avoid them.

    Keep being your wonderfully delicious self. I'm going to move back to Utah just so you can teach my kids, you genius you.

  15. Hopped over here from Erin's blog! Such a touchy subject, but I agree with you! I don't understand what is so wrong with educating children about sex and promoting abstinence. I know when I was in jr high we had a sex education class each week for a month!

  16. I'll keep my response to your post short and simple. I think it is crazy that you're not allowed to talk to students about birth control. Back in my day (I'm only 28 so I guess it wasn't TOO long ago), we had sex ed classes. Did they work? Maybe/maybe not, but at least the word was out there and we knew what COULD happen.
    Anyway. I've just found your blog from Living in Yellow. I came over immediately because you cracked me up. You see Bon Bon (we're super best friends now in case you didn't know), I love hilarious people. So I'm now following your blog and I'm looking forward to more :)

  17. As the daughter and sister of educators, it appalls me when ANY knowledge is deliberately withheld under the guise of morality (or anything else). Deliberate ignorance is not only offensive, it's dangerous. And we battle it every day with news that is more about sensationalism and insular fear-mongering than passing on facts (particularly with world news) and with history textbooks that abstain from sharing entire cultures and religions.
    It's also appalling to see complete disregard for the whole 'separation of church and state' thing that founded this country.

    And from a personal perspective, my ultra-conservative-Christian school district instated a sex ed program that preached 100% abstinence (and nothing else), for 3 years while I was in middle school. We had just as many teen pregnancies, just as much spread of STDs, and just as many confused hormone-driven kids(because it's biology, not education, that encourages sexual behavior). The difference was, we also stopped respecting teachers who taught what we knew was clearly BS (and I think there was resentment that they would truly believe we'd "pet our dog, not our date" because a little blue workbook said it, when every other message in books, on TV, at the movies, and in advertising said we should get laid and often).

  18. I may be mormon, but I think abstinence only education is one of the stupidest things ever thought of.
    and that's all I have to say about that.

  19. Isn't it so frusterating? I don't agree with it either. Seems like everyone who has commented so far feels the same way. I would truly be interested on hearing how the other side was argued...even more so how it won the vote. Knowledge IS power and ignorance is NOT bliss.

  20. So, as a sex-education teacher in Utah, I think about this A LOT (mostly I teach interior design, but I do have one Adult Roles class). I think I'm the only who doesn't totally agree with you. But I'm not totally convinced on my stance either. I teach abstinence only because I have to, but also because its what I believe. My students feel very comfortable talking to me one on one about their experiences and problems and asking for help. What I do teach about contraceptives is this:
    A woman on birth control is 100x more likely to contract an STD.
    1 in 4 condoms fail in teen relationships. 1 in 6 condoms fail in a married relationship so knowledge doesn't really help raise the odds that much.
    So I do what I do because its the law AND because I feel like its important to educate students on the RISKS of any sex, "protected" or not.

    I hope you don't hate me now, cause I think you're super funny!

  21. Coming by from seeing u on erins blog! This is the craziest thing I've ever heard. Kids are going to hear about and try sex either way. I totally believe in teaching abstinence but not all will listen to that. They need to know there are options go birth control otherwise u get way too many teen moms who should not be raising children. I'm just shocked by this!

  22. I AGREE 100% While I don't condone teens having sex, at the end of the day, it DOES happen. And most parents don't know their kids are the ones participating in it. I would much rather have teens who are going to have sex anyways, know how to protect themselves and save an innocent child from having to come into the world in a bad situation. And I agree, withholding information does not help students. We don't teach the same way about drugs? Why should sex education be any different. People can ignore the problem if they want to, but that wont bring the sexually transmitted diseases or teen pregnancy statistics down. It also wont stop the world and other peers teaching them. Wouldn't you rather exercise control of how they will learn about contraception, instead of fearing they will get misinformed from uneducated friends?! AHH I could go on for forever on this!

  23. I jumped on over to take a gander at your site after you came over to my little page.

    It really bites that you aren't allowed to fully inform your students about sex. As an aspiring healthcare professional promoting abstinence isn't bad, but we should still keep students informed. I truly believe that knowledge is power and deliberate ignorance is very dangerous.

    The more you tell teenagers no, the more they will rebel and ultimately do whatever they want. Accompany that with not being well informed? That's scary.

  24. I just found your blog and I love love love it! However, I do not think teachers should be discussing anything like birth control or social issues along the same lines. Its a sad time in a nation when people expect their children to be taught manners, personal hygiene and sex ed at school. Parents need to raise their kids themselves and raise them right and stop turning to the governemnt for everything. Such issues may be appropriately covered in private school but thats a different venue than state funded schools. Just my two-cents. And oh gees... this is just another reason why the thought of having kids completely freaks me out! Hahahahah. But friend, keep doing what you think is best. I won't ever fault a teacher for caring too much. =)

  25. Okay, I know I'm crazy late in responding, but I just found your blog and this post... and man this is a big topic.

    I can completely see your frustration, and I do agree with you that being educated and informed is the best option for everyone. Unfortunately, many of the people who claim to be doing the educating aren't giving people the whole truth as it is. The feminist movement, in its drive to make women equal (or even superior) to men, has actually done a lot of damage to us by keeping us ignorant and stupid -- telling us that it's easier to pop a pill than to actually learn and understand your body. Even family physicians don't understand the basics of female reproduction and give out horribly false information. We are told that hormonal birth control is safe to take for endless years with few side effects -- but many of us know that isn't true. We aren't told what hormonal birth control can do if you do happen to get pregnant while using it - as it is not 100% effective at preventing ovulation. I, personally, don't trust anyone else to educate my children about sex, pregnancy, and family planning, because I feel that the vast majority of our society these days are not fully educated themselves.

  26. I had no idea about these laws in ut and I live here. I agree one hundred percent with you. kids are surrounded by explicit material and a human life is no thing to gamble with.

  27. Amen! While parents SHOULD be teaching these things to their kids, many AREN'T. Wake up, America!