Monday, February 28, 2005

Previewing the New Video

Last week some of us got a chance to see the new condom video that will be shown in Montgomery County sex-education classes. The health teachers at Einstein High School came out Wednesday night and explained the curriculum to us, showed us some of the stuff they use in class, and showed us the video, called "Protect Yourself."

The video, as the kids in the schools where it was piloted told the Gazette, was no big deal. A lady discusses how to buy condoms -- she uses the word "abstinence" ten times in a 7-minute program -- and eventually she shows how to put one on, using a cucumber as a proxy penis. It was really not very exciting.

The video had lots of good advice -- don't open the package with your teeth, don't use oil-based lubricants, if you start to put it on inside out you have to throw it away, use rubber not lambskin, stuff like that.

One thing that surprised me was learning that the current video, the one that has been shown since 1992, is actually more realistic than this one. Apparently, "Hope Is Not a Method" uses a computer-generated graphic of a realistic penis, and shows how to put the condom on that. You got the feeling the teachers actually kind of liked the old video better. But, y'know, kids start to giggle when they see people in bellbottoms talking about how "groovy" things are. So eventually you have to update the materials.

So, again, you wonder -- what's the big deal? It's not new to have a video showing how to put on a condom, it's only a new video. And, OK, it's a cucumber, is that somehow more salacious, more immoral, than showing a ... penis?

I don't get it.

Those health teachers are something else. They are great. This is just matter-of-fact stuff to them, and they take it seriously. One teacher mentioned that one of her students got pregnant. "Well, you just flunked my health class," the teacher said.

I know people would like to make teenage sex into a big moral crusade, but the fact is, a lot of girls in high school are getting pregnant, and a lot of nasty infectious stuff is going around. The point of this health class is to put a dent in that. The health teachers constantly urge the kids to abstain from sex, and they give them lots and lots of reasons not to do it. But the fact is, sex is bigger than any health teacher, and a lot of teenagers are doing it anyway. We all hope that students choose abstinence in their private lives, but as citizens, as a community, we need to address the consequences that arise when they don't.


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