More and more schools seem to be bringing in speakers to do assemblies who are controversial, to say the least, especially Christian right types that give the full wingnut presentation on abstinence, abortion and sexual freedom. The latest is a school in Nashville, which brought in speakers from a religious right group called Decisions, Choices and Options to do a mandatory assembly full of inaccuracies and cheap scare tactics.
Having sex with eight partners would be the equivalent of drinking a whole classroom’s spit, so the presentation goes. There’s a new sexually transmitted disease out there that will become the new AIDS. All medical textbooks say life begins at conception.
For an hour, Joi Wasill, the founder of nonprofit Decisions, Choices and Options, and Sumner County School Board member Beth Cox provided a captive audience their take on STDs, abortion and adoption. It wasn’t completely accurate, a Vanderbilt University doctor said…
On the recording, Cox takes the first half. One out of four people who start having sex at the students’ age will get an STD, she says.
“Ladies, that’s especially important for you, because many of those STDs will leave you infertile,” she says. “You can no longer have children later on in life.”
Condoms break, she said. Birth control pills aren’t 100 percent effective — she has a friend who became pregnant three times while taking them.
They gave out information on a local “crisis pregnancy center” where they would hear religious arguments to talk them out of an abortion. Basically, it was the entire anti-sex, anti-choice screed. And it’s not a good idea:
The presentation isn’t helpful, said Dr. Mary Romano, assistant professor in Vanderbilt’s Division of Adolescent Medicine. Its biggest problem is that it uses scare tactics. That never works with teens, whose developing brains too rarely allow reason to outweigh pleasure or believe anything bad will happen to them, she said.
Other than that, the presentation relies on facts taken out of context. STDs make you sterile if they’re not treated. Drinking spit and having sex introduce you to different kinds of diseases. Most medical textbooks never broach the idea of when life begins, because that’s based on people’s opinions, Romano said.
What gets through to teens are factual messages, in context, delivered consistently and over time and echoed by parents.
“What you want to do is have the teen walk away with knowledge and skills. Teach me skills to negotiate that situation. If I’m going to have sex, who do I go to for information?” Romano said.
A school board member admits there’s a problem here, but doesn’t seem to care:
Metro Nashville School Board member Michael Hayes, whose district includes Hillsboro, wrote in an email he was surprised by excerpts of the presentation.
“Fortunately, I believe the Hillsboro High School kids are smart enough to separate fact from fiction and that some of the opinions and scare tactics used in the presentation they will know are incorrect,” he wrote, but he would need to know more to comment further.
Seriously? That’s his argument? If kids are smart enough to separate fact from fiction in such presentations, why bother to have them at all? This is a serious problem and it’s happening all over the place. For crying out loud, some schools are bringing in Bradlee Dean, who thinks gay people should be killed.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: