Russell Pearce Misses the Point: Starting a Dialogue on Sex Education

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, political engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

teacher and studentsMuch has been made of the repugnant remarks made by former Republican lawmaker Russell Pearce regarding poor women and birth control. Mr. Pearce — assuming he was head of welfare — made comments on his radio show September 6 saying he would force women to have birth control implants or undergo surgical sterilization to access funds. So many regimes have used this rhetoric, and some have enacted policies like these to control the reproductive lives of women. It seems the definition of insanity that we’re having this conversation again.

Let’s be clear about one thing: Politicians have no place in the health care choices of Americans. All health care decisions should be made between the patient, the doctor, and the patient’s family — and politics should play no part in that.

Let’s also remember, birth control prevents abortion. In fact, birth control allows young people to finish high school — which is especially important here in Arizona since we have a high teen pregnancy rate and subsequent increased high school dropout rates.

But really what it comes down to is education. Government cannot force birth control on its citizens. Governments cannot legislate to impose morality or healthy decision making or regulate hormones. What governments can do is educate their youth on abstinence and contraceptive behaviors to help keep them safe from unintended pregnancy and STDs. Schools can teach medically accurate information on anatomy and biology and facilitate conversations on the importance of healthy relationships. Finally, communities can help advocate against bullying and raise awareness about dating violence and ways to address it.

Since sexuality education is not a mandatory subject in Arizona schools, it’s important to understand that accuracy and truth matter. School boards, local schools, and communities can take action today by simply asking teachers, principals, and administrators: “What is my kid learning when it comes to sex ed?” Facebook and Twitter allow public platforms for town-hall-like discussion to take place directly with officials. Have you ever wondered what your child is learning — if anything — about sex? Maybe it’s time to find out.

To learn more about starting the conversation on comprehensive sex education, please download our flier.