Why abstinence-only is winning: We are undone by our apathy

Talk about AB230, the comprehensive sex education bill, was all over the TV yesterday! Even your humble Siren got in the mix as a guest, with my pal Annette Magnus, of Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada, on Ralston Reports. Likewise, Annette made appearances on Fox 5 in the morning as well as The Agenda.

Taking it to the airwaves!

And we need it more than ever! If you haven’t already, check out my re-cap of the hearing on AB230 on Monday, in which some truly horrifying behavior and testimony happened. And if you’re not totally outraged after that, take a gander at the opinions entered on the public record for AB230. No really. Let’s look at some.

Names are withheld on opinions submitted through the Legislature’s website, but here are some snippets from the opposition:

You are forcing the rights of parents and churches out of the raising of our children by accepting this bill. Including information in health class that relates to the reproductive system is fine, but including the social acceptance of homosexuality has no place in schools.

Or this:

THIS BILL IS A PARENTAL COP-OUT. There is no reason that a parent can’t talk to their kids about sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, STD’s and pregnancy. In fact, a parent should be the primary teacher on such an important matter. Why are we leaving it to bureaucrats and special interest groups to give our children their spin on such delicate subjects?

Not hardcore enough? How about this?

This bill is morally wrong, wrong, wrong!! It reminds me of what the Nazis were trying to do to control the German children before God condemned them to lose the war. For those members of the Legislature who cannot resist the evil financial influences that demand that children be forced to accept massive, detailed information about everything they never wanted to know about sex, sexual abuse and sexual behavior of all kinds, I ask that you simply provide the information to the parents in a series of seminars and in a DVD that they can decide for their own children if, when and where the material is to be provided.

Equating updating the sex education law — which was originally passed in 1980 — to Nazi Germany is more than a tad extreme. I have read the bill (PDF) and nowhere in it does it mandate rounding up people and sending them to the gas chamber. Just sayin. And it says a lot about those who are vehemently opposed to pulling our sex education curriculum standards into the 21st century.

Indeed, this is just a tiny portion of the lengthy multitude of ANTI comments regarding AB230. People, we need you to submit your opinion FOR this bill! The antis are winning! And that’s not just some hyperbolic rhetoric.

AB230 is in the top 50 bills with comments on the Legislature’s website. When you break down comments by opinion — For/Against — the antis have nearly a 2-1 margin on us! As I write this, there are 484 opposing comments out of a total 748.

If you check out bill opinions by city, well, it’s not very easy to look up because apparently the Legislature website registers city by how you type it in. So that means that if you type “Las Wages” that is the city that is listed. Really. (Note to Legislature website folks: A pull-down city tab is definitely in order.) So, rather than spend all day tabulating all the votes from all the “city” listings that resemble Southern Nevada metro area locales, I’ll just point to the one that says “Las Vegas”: 169 for to 299 against. Henderson registers 82 comments, with 51 against. And North Las Vegas shows a total of 3 votes. Three?! Oh, and two of those votes are for the bill. Reno shows 45 opinions on AB230, with 28 for. What’s up with that? Since when is Reno our less-engaged, and moderately more liberal friend up North? Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of peeps up in Reno, but with voter registration demographics swinging decidedly liberal in the South part of the state, color me surprised that the conservatives are running the table on this so deftly.

But more importantly, where are my progressive parents, voters, and community-minded peeps at? Do you realize that the committees that are currently establishing sex ed standards for each district sometimes dismiss whole textbooks because they show anatomical drawings of the human body? True story. I watched it happen when I sat in on a committee meeting several years ago.

Where are you, LGBT community? Right now, under current sex ed standards, homosexuality is labeled a “lifestyle choice” and not even covered by most teachers. Last night on Ralston, Janine Hansen, of the Nevada Eagle Forum, said that comprehensive sex education is a “radical” approach that will promote “abortion and homosexuality.” And, by the way, she eluded more than once to such lifestyles as “deviant.” And she was being polite.

Where are you, progressive people of faith? Don’t tell me you aren’t out there, because I see some of you every Sunday. Do you really want the anti-evolution lot in charge of sex education curriculum in public schools? Because I’m here to tell you, they are, under the current law.

Where are my separation-of-church-and-state peeps? If you would prefer things are kept science-based and medically accurate, this is your chance to make that change here in Nevada.

Where are all the feminist parents? I know you exist, because you interact with me right here on SCS every day. You leave comments on my facebook wall and tweet me at all hours. I don’t care if you ever leave another comment on my blog if it means you put that energy into getting behind comprehensive sex education in Nevada. Because if you want to remove stigma and shame-based approaches to how kids learn about human sexuality and healthy relationship, then you need to get on this! If you are tired of the out-dated and ineffective approach of alienating sexually active teens by sticking to a dogmatic abstinence-only curriculum and misinformation campaign then you need to get on this.

Forgive me for being blunt: You need to get on this. Right now.

Because as much as I like to bitch that right-wing, conservative christian mentality is what’s wrong with America… WE ARE UNDONE BY OUR OWN APATHY!

Look, I get it. We are all ridiculously busy. I’m a mom who has to balance working from home with chasing a toddler. I’ve got two blogs. I’m trying to sell a screenplay and a book manuscript. I’m trying to figure out if my toddler is ready for preschool and how I’m going to afford it. We’re still in “potty training” mode. Bills got to get paid. That library book is overdue. Holy crap, has that dry cleaning slip been in my wallet for a month? Everyone’s hungry and all we have is a box of Cheerios, a can of beans, and three clean spoons because no one has had time to make a grocery run or load the dishwasher…


Guess what? I don’t have time for this shit, either. I really don’t. I certainly did not have time to go on Ralston Reports last night. I didn’t have time for the parental gymnastics that had to happen to coordinate a change to routine and childcare to make my activism for the comprehensive sex ed bill happen two nights in a row (counting the 4.5-hour hearing on Monday). I’ve been so busy today, I’m still wearing the t-shirt I slept in and only changed into regular pants when I dropped my daughter off at daycare. True story. (At least I brushed my teeth.) I’m not even ashamed to tell you that because I don’t have time to be embarrassed about how I look. There are too many other, far more important, things to get done!

Nobody has time for any of this! But you know what? We have to make time! In a world where everyone is saying that, let me put it another way. There are actual life-and-death consequences to making this change. If we save just one kid from contracting HIV; one kid from committing suicide because of bullying based on sexual orientation; one kid who asks a trusted teacher for help for the first time because she is getting molested at home; if we stop one unintended pregnancy; give one young adult the tools to walk out of a physically abusive relationship; or save one kid the trauma of being raped… THEN WE WIN!

Because what the fuck are we doing if we fail our kids when they really and truly need us? And they need us. All of us.

It does not matter if you have kids or not because what happens to these kids impacts the entire community. When teens become parents, their chances of dropping out of school skyrocket. High school drop-outs make substantially less than those with diplomas and people who become parents as teens are significantly more likely to need help from social safety net programs. And we all pay for those. … And that’s just one scenario. There’s a real, quantifiable economic toll on a community that has inadequate sex education. Nevada already has the fourth highest rate of teen pregnancies, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Do we really think what we have now is working?

Honestly, what are you waiting for?

9 thoughts on “Why abstinence-only is winning: We are undone by our apathy

  1. I’m just commenting to support you and say you’re doing amazing work! Also, of course “God condemned the Nazis to lose the war” because of teaching children propaganda- not for any other crimes or misdemeanors. (WHAT?!?)

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