Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 13, 2012
Abstinence-only bill misses the mark

To those legislators that supported House Bill 363 to eliminate sex education in school, I would like to bring to your attention to a few weaknesses within the bill. First, not all parents really care what their child does, and even those that do will not all have a thorough and caring sex talk. Second, there is a very high chance that we will just see teen pregnancy rates, as well as diseases, soar as a result of this legislation. Third, morality isn’t something that any government or board of education has ever been able to effectively manage or enforce.

I know a great deal of adolescents whose parents don’t care what their children do. Even with supportive parents, the “sex talk” usually never includes detailed information about sexually transmitted diseases. An average sex talk will be along the lines of “just wear protection” or “wait until after marriage.” No one is ever very comfortable to discuss what is meant to occur in the bedroom, especially with one’s parents — at any age. It is an embarrassing and awkward situation for both sides. This is precisely why this issue needs serious third-party (academic) attention.

Having no education on the matter of sex leaves the adolescent with only their schema and hormones to guide them. As Utah PTA president-elect Liz Zentner stated, “They’re going to have to revisit it [the bill] in a couple years when the teen pregnancy rates and teen sexually transmitted disease rates shoot through the roof.”

Teen pregnancy has been an issue for years. In 2006 alone, 750,000 women younger than 20 became pregnant. The pregnancy rate was 71.5 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15-19, and pregnancies occurred among about 7 percent of women in this age-group, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute, a global sexual and reproductive health advocacy organization. These numbers occur currently when schools are required to teach sex education and about STDs.

Finally, if one wants to bring morality issues into this bill, then we should be aware that morality isn’t universal. The Legislature shouldn’t tell the schools how to deal with something related solely to children’s health, and twist that into an opportunity to create new government-mandated moral policies, let alone laws.

Our current health classes are informative, not encouraging. Information about STDs alone is a huge pre-marital sex deterrent that schools are far better offering than parents will ever be. Health classes are currently in place to inform the students about intercourse and all that may occur from it. This is the essence of what education is supposed to represent. If this seems important to you, please contact the governor’s office and ask him to veto this dangerous bill.

 

Saige Alloway is a freshman at Stansbury High School who lives in Pine Canyon.

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