Friday, May 13, 2005

Do It Yourself Sex-Ed

This might be what we have to do here in Montgomery County. From Newsday:
MISSION, Texas -- With at least six classmates pregnant, including the valedictorian with her second child, it was clear to a few girls at Mission High School that more information was needed on safe sex.

So the four students at this school along the Mexican border -- where the teen pregnancy rate is among the highest in the nation -- decided they could help send the message by making their own movie.

Two years later, their 16-minute educational film promoting condom use, named "Toothpaste" after a teen code word for condoms, has been ordered by schools around the country. It also will be shown at film festivals and on the Showtime cable channel, according to the organization that produced the film.

"Hopefully, people will get something out of it," said Amanda Ramirez, one of the teens. Girls' Film on Pregnancy Gets Exposure

Of course, our wordly advice to these border-town kids would be to make the movie sin pepinos -- you don't want to make it too easy for intellectually-challenged opinionators to make so-called jokes about it! (Such as we saw in The Times yesterday -- sheesh, I won't put that in the bird cage!)
With its soundtrack of Spanish hip-hop and rolling background of the South Texas region known as the Valley, the film is a frank discussion about sexuality from a region where 37 of 1,000 girls get pregnant by age 17, according to state statistics.

That's the highest teen pregnancy rate in Texas and among the highest in the nation. Experts attribute the high rate to lack of knowledge about contraception and a cultural acceptance of young parents in a region that's 90 percent Hispanic.

The film is unusual because sex-education curriculum in Texas focuses on abstinence. Districts can discuss contraception in class, but the state advises against it. Most South Texas school districts do not.

The girls, all of whom are now attending college, said they would like to see Texas add information on contraceptives to its sex education policy.

"Hopefully the state will also realize the law they have -- it's not working," said Ramirez, now 19 and attending South Texas College.

David Champion, the Texas Education Agency education specialist for the region, said he saw value in the movie.

"If you talk to these teenagers, it's information that they need to know and they want to know," Champion said.

The geographic isolation of South Texas has kept many Mexican family traditions intact, including taboos about talking to teens about sex.

"We're more conservative, I guess," said Coria, 19, who is attending Southwestern University. "Our parents, I don't know why, just want us to be abstinent, period."

Well, parents everywhere want that, you don't have to live on the Mexico border to hope your teenager will abstain from sex. But like they used to say -- well, as they will continue to say, apparently, for some time -- in Montgomery County: "Hope is not a method."

Is this what you have to do? Should our kids develop health classes on their own, where they teach each other what they've learned?

It sounds better than the road we're going down now.


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