Saturday, May 9, 2015

That Texas Town: let’s talk about sex . . . and integrity

by Nani Lawrence, Writing Intern

An outbreak of chlamydia cases hit a small town in Texas recently.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, chlamydia is one of the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infections. It can be spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause adverse effects on women’s health, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancies, and infertility.


Image: wavebreakmedia via Shutterstock
Other media reported that the school in question, part of the Crane Independent School District, approaches sex education with an abstinence-only policy.

Personal experience probably tells you that kids and teenagers have a knack for doing what they are specifically told not to. Seemingly, that happened here.

The outbreak even pushed school officials to consider a new policy.

However, state health officials only recorded three cases in the county, as reported by The Guardian. “Evidently they had tested a lot of people but they didn't have any confirmation back and we misunderstood what it was, and I was just trying to be proactive,” Superintendent Jim Rumage said.

At least these news outlets reported the facts they were told, right? Not quite. Many local news outlets cited these same state health officials for the statistic of 20 out of 300 students infected.

Journalistic integrity and reputation makes or breaks a reporter.

The superintendent and the outlets shouldn't have lied, of course. But changing this policy can only be a very positive and beneficial choice.

Alan Guttmacher Institute figures estimate approximately 50 percent of males and females between the ages of 15 and 19 have engaged in vaginal intercourse. That figure rises to approximately 63 percent when other forms of sexual contact, such as oral and anal sex, are included.

People tend to do what they really want to do. Abstinence-only education may stall sexual exposure, but the data does not indicate that the educated ever completely restrain until marriage. And a seemingly monogamous relationship isn't always what it seems.

So, how does one expect teenagers to prepare for later life?

Parents could take the responsibility upon themselves. And this will work wonders, because if I know one thing it’s that parents and their kids love having “the talk” at dinner, with friends, and before and after church . . . .

There are only two contraceptive methods effective against STIs: condoms and abstinence. These sex ed policies do indeed have great intentions, as abstinence is 100 percent effective against every STI and pregnancy, obviously. Condoms are 82 percent effective against STIs, and even more so when used consistently and correctly. Obviously, a mix of both methods would be a best practice. But common sex ed curricula rarely includes this bit of information.
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Many states mandate that schools must have sex ed programs, but of those that do, many only offer this information over a few days. It may be a “crazy” notion, but a consistent course over the school year might help the message stick better.

The prevailing stereotype of HIV/AIDS as a “gay” disease (editor’s note: unfortunately still common in some circles) actually has some merit (ostensibly because a larger percentage of that community contracts the virus). Everyone, straight or gay, can contract HIV. Lesbians--though they may not have hetero-normative type penetrative sex--are at high risk for HPV (spread through genital skin contact, contamination of hands and fingers, and contamination of sex toys). The most contributing factor to the STI prevalence in that community could be the lack of a possible pregnancy scare.

Resounding reasons for sex sans protection seem to run along the lines of “I’m infertile,” or “I can’t get pregnant during my menstrual cycle.”

Improved education would simply expand on current knowledge. It doesn't have to encourage or promote homosexuality, just as it doesn't necessarily encourage or promote sex.

And even if it did, does it really matter as long as the harm of such activity is essentially eliminated?

This country is long overdue for an overhaul of sexuality education. Does that justify fabricating facts to support that reform?

Absolutely not, especially when these facts already exist in other forms.




Sources: 
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6338a3.htm
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/07/west-texas-school-chlamydia-outbreak-may-never-have-happened
http://www.cdc.gov/std/Chlamydia/STDFact-Chlamydia.htm
http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-condoms?page=3
http://ari.ucsf.edu/science/reports/abstinence.pdf
http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/news/20001004/gay-women-not-immune-from-sexually-transmitted-disease
http://www.hawaii.edu/PCSS/biblio/articles/2005to2009/2006-failure-of-abstinence-only-education.html#ftn_ref52
Reactions:

3 comments:

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