Mississippi Blues

It was in high school–my junior year I believe–that we had to take a ‘Health’ class aka a sex-education class taught by our P.E. teacher. The only thing I can remember about the class was watching the film The Miracle of Life, and the inevitable gasping and cringing of my classmates on the up-close shot of the woman-giving-birth’s vagina.

I mean, I did go to an all-girl’s Catholic high school, so we were probably lucky that we got sex-ed at all. But it was in no way comprehensive.

Some people may say “but the kids have the internet! they’ll learn that way!” or “their parents will teach them!” I say it isn’t a given that kids will Google before they…google each other (I know, I know, that was a terrible joke attempt). Parents are just as unreliable, because parents either a) don’t want their children to have sex (be it because of religion or principles) or b) feel too embarrassed to have “the talk” c) are ignorant (in the case of a child being homosexual).

Watching the “The Education of Shelby Knox” film in class last week, I thought Ms. Knox was the sole sensible voice in a sea of stupidity. How someone could disregard the logic that teaching kids how to use contraceptives will promote fewer abortions is beyond me (see: Ms. Knox’s local pastor). Wouldn’t a pastor want fewer abortions?

Abstinence-only education will never resonate with kids and, as Ms. Knox observed, sex will always happen so it might as well happen smartly.

I was interested to see the current policies of NYC on sex education and was pleased to find out that we’ve mandated a comprehensive sex ed curriculum. But other places in the US aren’t so lucky.

According to State Health Facts as of 2010 Mississippi has the highest teen birth rate (55%). Why’s that? Slate.com writes, “Mississippi sex-ed instructors are specifically forbidden to show students how to use condoms, boys and girls must be separated for class even though they’re usually together for actual sex, parents can opt out completely, and school districts were given the opportunity to choose an “abstinence-only” curriculum—which the majority of them did.” Though, the state did pass a law in 2011 in attempt to approve sex-education. But the abstinence-only curriculum continues to loom.

It’s slow going but hopefully Mississippi gets its act together. By educating children/teens about sex at an early age, it will improve their lives and possibly even save them.

2 thoughts on “Mississippi Blues

  1. kohagan says:

    While it is great that NYC has mandated comprehensive sex ed, I’m skeptical of how well it is implemented. Like many other students in the class commented in their blogs, I only had a one semester health class my junior year of high school, where we spent more time looking at gruesome images of STDs than talking about physically and emotionally safe sex. We never learned how to put on a condom, and as far as I can remember, there was no comprehensive review of birth control options. Though the school did give condoms to students who wanted them, students couldn’t get them before 3PM–presumably because they didn’t want us having sex during the school day, but you would think if we were going to be having sex during the school day (and/or on school property) the administration would at least want it to be safe sex. And parents could also sign a form prohibiting the school from giving their child condoms; I knew of at least some students with very conservative parents who did this.

  2. […] public school education repertoire of sex-ed/health. My fellow blogger, Sarah’s post titled Mississippi Blues, gives a brief explanation of her experiences with sex ed at a all-girls’ Catholic high […]

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