Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Current Condom Video

It has always seemed obvious that the suers' 2004/2005 attack on Montgomery County was not motivated by the content of the sex-ed curriculum, but by their hopes of a political coup capitalizing on it. If they had been able to recall the school board, as they set out originally to do, they could have affected Montgomery County political life in a most dangerous way. They were coached by Republican Party operatives in their meetings; the curriculum itself was innocuous, but the rhetoric from their side was calculated to drive a wedge into our community, so they could gain power. It has been our duty as citizens to stop them.

The Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum pretended to throw a big fit over the previous condom video, the one with the cucumber, and now they are shocked, simply shocked, because the new one tells students that they should use a condom whenever they have anal, oral, or vaginal sex. Or as they put it, it "instructs students in anal sex."

The CRC also has said many times that the current curriculum is just fine, and they don't want to change it.

So it's interesting to look at the condom video that's been in use in Montgomery County schools for ten years, at least -- the one that the CRC likes so much. I myself sat in a room at Einstein High School with the CRC's President a couple of years ago and watched this thing, so I know they know what's in it.

The video, Hope Is Not a Method, was produced in 1993. It covers quite a lot of ground in nineteen minutes, and manages the "delicate" stuff by using computer animations of penises and vaginas. We have a few chunks of script from the video.

Like, this is pretty good advice, but I'm surprised, again, that the CRC endorses it:
Female host: So now that you know how to start a pregnancy, you need to be aware that the way to prevent a pregnancy is to keep the egg and sperm away from each other. Not having vaginal intercourse is the obvious way to be sure pregnancy won’t occur. Another word for this is “abstaining.” But this doesn’t mean you can’t be close physically with another person. Two people can be sexually satisfied without having intercourse at all. You’re probably thinking of all sorts of things that two people can do – touch, kiss, masturbate, or give each other massages. They can even hug and hold hands and feel wonderful. Sex can be a lot more than just intercourse.

We have seen the survey results showing that students from abstinence-only sex-ed programs do all sorts of things while still remaining "technically" virgins -- is that why the CRC approves of this message?

And ... it's interesting, and I admit surprising, that the CRC is OK with telling students that masturbation is just one of "all sorts of things that two people can do." I think that I might have stopped short of that one, if I were developing a movie for other people's kids to watch. I'd say it to my own kids, but I think that's pushing it for a health class in a public school. --Remember what happened to Joycelyn Elders.

And I have to say, the statement, "Sex can be a lot more than just intercourse" is a very big sentence, and could be the central theme of a really good course. Especially when we have talked about sexual orientation, the CRC always wants to talk about "the behavior." Like, sex to them is intercourse. But here, this movie is saying that hugging and holding hands and feeling wonderful is a kind of sex.

It's fine with me, but I'm surprised the suers agree with it.

Some of the terminology in the movie is a little outdated, and in fact some of the advice is now considered incorrect.
Male host: Condoms not only prevent pregnancies but they are the only method that prevents the spread of sexually transmissible diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, condyloma, and of course, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Now we’re going to be talking about other methods of birth control as well but remember, whether you’re having vaginal, oral, or anal sex, condoms should be used to protect both you and your partner.

Where they say "condyloma," we would probably today say "HPV," or human papillomavirus, which is the virus responsible for genital warts, or condyloma. It also causes cervical cancer and other not-nice conditions. Also, there is now a new vaccine against it, and it is likely that this virus will stop being a danger for the next generation.

Note that the current curriculum says the same thing about "vaginal, oral, or anal sex" that the new one will say, but the CRC is threatening to sue over the new one. They are s-o-o-o-o outraged, but ... it's always been there. Where was the outrage three years ago? Four years ago? All through the last half of the Nineties? Nah, with the Bush re-election of 2004, they thought it was time to cash in some of that political capital. Sorry that didn't work, folks. Now you've missed your chance.

Here they go into some of the details that the citizens advisory committee wanted to make sure were included in the new video:
Male host: Some things to remember about condoms:

  • Lubricated condoms are less likely to tear.
  • Latex condoms are recommended because they give the best protection against the spread of sexually transmissible diseases.
  • Never use Vaseline or any oil-based product with a condom because oil destroys rubber quickly.
  • Body temperature can also destroy condoms so don’t keep them in your wallet for any length of time.
  • Condoms are to be used only once and then thrown away.

Female host: And plastic wrap, sandwich bags, and balloons are not the same as condoms. They don’t work.

Some of these things, you think, nobody'd ever do that, would they? And the answer is, yes, they would.

Hope Is Not a Method is a pretty long movie, we're not going to publish the entire script. It goes through some other forms of birth control. Here's a partial outline, as prepared by TTF's own CillyGoose:
  • Female condom
  • Foam – containing nonoxynol-9. The instruction is to USE A CONDOM TOO.
  • Suppositories – USE A CONDOM TOO.
  • Vaginal Contraceptive Film – USE A CONDOM TOO.
  • Sponge – USE A CONDOM TOO. If you’ve had toxic shock syndrome, do not use a barrier method like the sponge.
  • Prescription Methods:
  • Diaphragm – use spermicidal cream or gel and USE A CONDOM TOO.
  • Birth Control Pills – some people have minor reactions. USE A CONDOM TOO.
  • IUD – i.e., copper 7. USE A CONDOM TOO.
  • Norplant – A hormonal implant. USE A CONDOM TOO.
  • Natural Family Planning – rhythm – effectiveness widely varies as you try to avoid having vaginal intercourse near ovulation. Don’t try this alone; work with a family planning specialist.

All of these methods have been temporary birth control methods. Next up are the permanent methods:

  • Voluntary Sterilization: tubal ligation in women, vasectomy in men.
  • Unintended pregnancy: go to Planned Parenthood, a family planning clinic, clergy, doctor, therapists, counselors.

Note that nonoxynol-9 is not recommended any more, because it can have adverse effects. I don't think you can get the sponge in the US any more, either. If a health teacher shows this video in class, they have to be sure to go back and correct a couple of these things. And our health teacher told that's just what she does.

I'm pretty sure the new curriculum also doesn't mention that a girl should go to Planned Parenthood or a family planning clinic if she finds herself unintentionally pregnant.

In fact, I'd say that was the one political decision that the citizens advisory committee made in evaluating the newest curriculum. We discussed inclusion of a section that addresses the question -- what do you do if you think you're pregnant? The answer seems pretty obvious, that you have three basic choices: you can have the baby and raise it, you can put it up for adoption, or you can abort. The committee just knew there was no point in even including these obviously true facts, simply because of the polarized political culture.

Well, you know, health teachers can continue to show this video, even though there's a new one.

Hope Is Not a Method wraps up with this exchange:
Male host: Well, we’ve answered many of your questions about birth control. We know it can be embarrassing buying a contraceptive and it can be difficult talking to your partner about sex and birth control.

Female host: But we hope you’ll realize how much better you’ll feel about yourself and your partner if you’re not worried about an unintended pregnancy or disease. Remember this can happen to you. Responsible sexuality is a choice only you can make.”

In 2004, right after the shocking Presidential elections that were interpreted as a "mandate" by the religious right, the group that became CRC formed to recall the school board in response to the unanimous decision to adopt a new sex-ed curriculum. (They'll tell you that's not true, that they just called their web site by accident, it didn't mean what you think it means.) When you read the curriculum itself, you saw that there was nothing there to offend; it was very conservative, to use that word in its ordinary sense. They made up stuff and twisted words to make it sound bad, but an intelligent person could read it themselves and see what was going on.

They saw their opportunity, and they attacked. And here's the point: their attack on Montgomery County had almost nothing to do with the content of the curriculum itself. And as we look back at the video that the county has always used, we see that the same complaints that were made against the "old new" curriculum, as well as the "new new" curriculum, could have been made against the "old" curriculum we're currently using.

The people of this county approve of this type of education, and always have. The crybabies threw their tantrum, and now it's time for them to cry themselves back to sleep.


Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Look who has POed some highly qualified medical researchers this time.

Stem Cells, The White House And Rankled Researchers

Monday, January 22, 2007; A17

Harvard University researchers Kevin Eggan, Chad Cowan and Douglas A. Melton wrote members of Congress earlier this month to complain that the White House domestic policy office's report "Advancing Stem Cell Science Without Destroying Human Life" was a "misuse and misunderstanding" of their research. Excerpts:

"We are surprised to see our work on reprogramming adult stem cells used to support arguments that research involving human embryonic stem cells is unnecessary. On the contrary, we assert that human embryonic stem cells hold great promise to find new treatments and cures for diseases. . . .

"The work that we performed and that was cited in the White House policy report is precisely the type of research that is currently being harmed by the President's arbitrary limitation on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. . . .

"We feel that the President's restrictive policy has directly impeded research that provides a hope for cures for millions of Americans. . . .

"The White House has clearly gotten it wrong. The overwhelming consensus in the scientific and medical community is that embryonic stem cell research holds the greatest potential to cure diseases and end the suffering of millions."

Bush, Dobson, and the suers all feel entitled to take the words of others out of context and to spin webs of deceipt. The CRC has endorsed a condom demonstration for MCPS students even though it was created in 1993 and is full of medically inaccurate and outdated information.

Along with most of the rest of the true blue progressive Montgomery County community, I think MCPS students should get up-to-date and accurate medical information in health classes, not outdated misinformation.

Aunt Bea

January 22, 2007 3:23 PM  

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