Friday, July 29, 2005


If parents do not sign the consent form for a student to take the dreaded and mind-warping sex-ed class, the kid is sent to an "alternative" instructional exercise instead. I haven't seen this, but it sounds like it means the student goes and sits in the library and works on something.

Normally this is not an issue, because when parents rely on their own judgment, almost nobody opts out of the class. Something around one per cent, I have heard. Now that Their Holiness have made an issue of it, we can expect more people, maybe as many as two or three per cent, to withhold this information from their children.

So the question will come up: shouldn't there be a better "alternative" to the regular sex-ed class?

At first, I thought, sure, let MCPS design a second curriculum for those kids. Maybe leave out the condom stuff and don't tell them that there are gay people. It sounds fair, on the face of it.

But lately I'm not so assured about that.

You can see where it goes. You will give them a kind of "abstinence-only" class (also known as "ignorance education"). So what will they talk about? By definition, they will be learning about doing nothing. So there's not much to say, like, if you were having sex, this dealy would go into that dealy and ... And we know what happens. These "abstinence" programs get bizarre.

For instance, it should be enough to not tell students about condoms. It is nonsense to tell them they don't work. But that's what happens.

It should be enough not to mention homosexuality. It is nonsense to tell them it's a choice or something that can be cured. But that happens.

See what I mean? Wherever these "abstinence-only" classes are taught, they slip-slide into nonsense. And I would not support that happening here.

Ha! What do I care? My kids won't be taking it! -- you exclaim.

Well, listen, I don't tell the math teacher what to teach my kids about polynomials. I don't send my kids to a special English class, which they can be taught that it's just fine to end a sentence with a preposition at. (Read it again, it works.)

See, the issue isn't that "some parents believe" blah blah blah. It's that what "some parents believe" is wrong. And it's not only that, but the consequences of teaching kids some of these things are negative for all of us. If someone's kid is taught that condoms are ineffective, he isn't going to wear one when he goes out with someone else's daughter. Somebody who remains ignorant about the diversity of people around them will not know how to reason against bigotry.

Part of the reason they teach about sex in the schools is that there are public health issues around that topic. The two main kinds of issues have to do with pregnancy and disease. There are other issues, too, but mainly the public health issues have to do with unwanted babies and STD epidemics -- and these are big-time problems. So for all of us, it is important to tell students how stuff works and what they can do about it, honestly and thoroughly.

I don't mind if some prudish parent wants to keep their kid out of a couple of classes because they can't trust the kid with knowledge. Obviously, I think that's dumb, but it doesn't bother me. It will bother me, though, if the school district institutionalizes nonsense and ignorance and teaches it to kids who live in my community.

Oh, and I have heard them say -- I heard it just the other night at the Board meeting -- that it is embarrassing and humiliating for a kid to have to leave class. Um, yeah, adolescents are a little self-conscious, I agree, it might be embarrassing. But listen, you parents are making a statement, right? You're standing up for what you believe in, right? The kid is taking a position against evil, right? So show some fortitude. If you're ashamed of missing the class, don't miss it. If you believe in what you're doing, do it with pride.

... It's just such a lame excuse ...


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