I got a reminder of that Saturday while judging the Central Forensics Conference tournament in Huron. In the health classroom, I happened to notice a big orange poster offering "101 Reasons to Be Abstinent." Setting off the irony meter:
- We were in this classroom to judge the Humor final.
- One of my fellow judges was Carmen Toft, one of SDCHF's organizers.
The poster does carry some blatant sexism, citing as one reason to say no to nookie, "Don't have to shave your legs all the time."
I don't get it. I engage in non-abstinent behavior, and I don't have to shave my legs. Neither does my wife.
I'll admit that there's nothing inherently wrong with many of the suggestions on this poster. Save money on condoms, avoid gonorrhea... can't argue with that. But when this is the only message kids get—when birth control is portrayed as nothing but a burden, on a par with sexually transmitted diseases—we're leaving our kids ill-equipped to face all the decisions that will come their way.
I guarantee that Madville Times Jr. will get a heavy dose of encouragement toward abstinence from her father (as will any young men who presume to be worthy of her time and attention). But she'll also know all about condoms, the pill, and all the other ways to control her reproductive capacity. (Her mother may also add judo to that list—watch out, fellas.) We know abstinence-only education doesn't work. We hope President-Elect Obama remembers his past votes for better sex ed and puts the Abstinence Clearinghouse and other purveyors of bad science on the chopping block.