As I was going to check my email, I came across this article on Yahoo!
It seems Tennessee's latest abstinence only law is to outlaw handholding. Yes. Handholding.
Can we just take a moment to actually talk about abstinence only education?
I live in MS. I received an abstinence only education. And I can tell you it doesn't work. Kids who are taught abstinence only are just as likely to have sex, and more likely to do it unsafely and associate sexual exploration and fulfillment as something shameful.
I'm a non gender normative, non sexual normative individual who was pushed through and broken by that system, and I've managed to pull myself together again relatively unharmed. Scuffed, but with more character for it. I'm a best case scenario. There are others who will have issues with shame and body image, not to mention self worth for years because of the slant MS takes on sexual education.
And those are just the psychological damages. There's also the high rate of teen pregnancy and the spread of venereal diseases, and just general ignorance all around. A MS sexual health class, if taught how the state mandates, actually teaches very little about sex itself. Everything I know about sex is information I went out of my way to learn myself.
The be all and end all of the class was "If you have sex, you're going to hell. If you have sex, your parents will hate you. If you have sex, your peers will revile you. If you have sex, you are a dirty whore. If you have sex, do all you can to hide it. If you need help, there is none to be found here."
Abstinence only education builds up sex into an event of such importance and significance that there is a tremendous feeling of pressure, of being watched, judged, every moment. It takes a long time to escape that feeling. It creates an unrealistic expectation of doom, a Sword of Damocles hanging over your head. The emphasis is DO NOT HAVE SEX DO NOT HAVE SEX HAVING SEX IS THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO NO DON'T DO IT DON'T, YOU HARLOTS, HEATHENS, DEMONS. It's about fear, and social stigma, rather than a calm, reasoned explanation of the inherent risks.
We need to, as a nation, accept that sexual feelings, from asexual to homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, and everything in between is a normal part of the human experience and stop minimizing the importance awareness and acceptance of your own sexuality plays in a well adjusted individual. Abstinence only education is never going to achieve that.