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. Continue reading

Arizona’s SB1309 Law Has Gutted Sex Education

In May of 2010, Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law SB1309, the  so-called “Parental Bill of Rights.”  This bill requires parental consent before a child or teen can receive sex education in school.  This law also requires Arizona schools to notify parents when material regarding “sexuality” is presented in non-sex education classes, such as biology. Proponents of the law say this bill will ensure that the government does not intrude on parents’ child rearing.  The Arizona Board of Education says that it will be up to the local school governing boards to implement the law.

Before the passage of SB 1309, Arizona did not require sex education.  Local school boards decided which subjects this education would cover and the grade level in which topics are introduced.  If sex education was taught, it had to be age appropriate.  Abstinence had to be covered and stressed as the only effective protection against unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, and abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of lawful marriage was the expected social standard for unmarried school-age person.  This is from the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that had provisions added for abstinence education. The federal government then began to divert tens of millions of dollars to abstinence education programs.  Most programs were tied to religious programs, rather than traditional public health organizations.

Arizona is one of three states that now require parental consent for sex education.  The other two states are Utah and Nevada.  The Guttmacher Institute says 35 states — including the District of Columbia — mandate that students learn about sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. Arizona is also ranked last in the nation in education funding.

The result?  Continue reading