Marianne Is Here Because Sex Ed Matters

Volunteering at the PPAZ office

I believe in Planned Parenthood. I believe in reproductive freedom, the right to choose, medically accurate sexuality education for all people, access to all reproductive medical care options and, especially, freedom from harassment for women who make that choice.

I am here for Planned Parenthood because I remember my high school years. I grew up in Santa Monica, California and I was educated in the Catholic school system. The best part was this was the early to mid-’70s. There was still kind of a ‘hangover’ from the late ’60s to early ’70s with ‘free love’, ‘summer of love’ and Woodstock. The ‘hangover’ was evident in our high school. The school administration was unabashedly liberal. They actually believed that ‘sex ed’ should be more than just some put-upon phys ed instructor, usually the football coach, trying to maintain order amongst a group of giggling teenagers and passing on some hard-won information about reproduction, sexual intercourse, birth and STDs.

The administration set up a balance of courses that the students passed through at each grade level. Freshman usually started with just the regular catechism courses. These taught the church’s position with regard to birth control and the role of sexual intercourse inside and outside marriage. This was required; after all, we were a Catholic high school.

Bear in mind that this was before Roe v. Wade. After successful completion, the student now was able to pass into either a biology science course or receive information through a general science course. Both were taught by actual science instructors and these were not ‘hurry-up-and-get-it-over-with’ courses, I opted for general science, I could not bear to dissect an animal for the anatomy portion. The instructors were smart and when they reached the sexuality portion of the course, they segregated the classes. Boys had the male instructors and girls went to the female instructors. The course was medically-based and the teachers made it clear they were there to answer only questions with regards to actual biology. Moral debates were reserved for later and handled in a future catechism course.

Segregation was heavenly. Yes, there were some girls who were admonished by the teacher to keep their comments to themselves. Overall, though, all the girls were able to ask any question, and there were plenty. The best part: you could speak with the teacher after class, after school and after you had finished the course for the semester. Yes, parents objected. Yes, there was the ‘opt out’ option. Most students took the course and passed with no qualms and most questions satisfied.

During the junior and senior years you were back in the religion classes with the senior year having the requirement of a marriage and family course. This course included the infamous ‘fake baby’ that was guaranteed to ruin a weekend and discussions on the role of sexuality in marriage. Here we could debate (argue, really) in safety. Roe v. Wade was in the Supreme Court and abortion was a hot button item. We also discussed birth control and the role of sexuality outside marriage. Remember also that the birth control pill was still relatively new and women were just beginning to accept they could choose to not become pregnant.

My parents did talk a little about sex, mostly to say not to get involved with sex. Most of my information came from school and my doctor. I am here for Planned Parenthood because I believe that all of their services should be available to all women. Planned Parenthood advocates a course of sex education similar to my experience. In the state of Arizona, SB1309 has pretty much stifled this type of course. You might even say it sounds just like my parents’ response. Planned Parenthood believes in medically accurate information for all levels.

If you believe…if you feel that women should and must have fair and equal access to reproductive care then please give your time by emailing advocate@ppaz.org.

I am here for Planned Parenthood. Will you be here for them, too?

2 thoughts on “Marianne Is Here Because Sex Ed Matters

  1. Marianne, it’s so interesting to hear about what sex ed was like at your Catholic high school. It’s surprising that you got such comprehensive sex ed – kinda goes to show that some things (like basic health care) are more important than religious dogma. Thanks for all you do to help Planned Parenthood advocate for comprehensive sex ed.

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