Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Children > It’s about time state legislatures gear up for the “sex talk”

It’s about time state legislatures gear up for the “sex talk”

LatinaLista — Abstinence-only has ruled sex education curriculum in public schools for the last several years. However, teenage pregnancy rates among certain communities have escalated to frightening heights. Finally, there is a push in state legislatures across the country to pass bills implementing comprehensive sex education in schools. The real test is if legislators have the political will to do what is needed to turn the statistics around.
It’s rare that a picture of an exhausted new mother, plopped against the pillows of her metal-frame hospital bed, and proudly cradling her angelic newborn doesn’t illicit sympathetic smiles. But that was exactly the case back in January for a Dallas 15-year-old when she was featured in local media for having the first newborn of 2009.
In fact, the picture of the teen mom stirred a range of emotions — the worst bordering on disgust when it was discovered that the 15-year-old eighth grader lived at home with not only her mother, but the 20-year-old father of her new baby.
Regardless of what side of the fence a person sits when it comes to contraceptive usage, the idea of a child having a child goes against what we as a society want and expect from our children — no matter how much family support exists.
Because this eighth grader was educated in public schools, her knowledge of sex and how to prevent a pregnancy probably didn’t include any lessons on “safe sex” practices. No, the message she, and her peers, have been getting for the last several years is “Just say no.”
Well, we’ve long known that message just doesn’t work for every teenager.
So far, the fight to not teach medically accurate sex education to our nation’s children has been spearheaded by social conservatives who somehow believe that teens can rise above the influences of raging hormones and peer pressure to not have sex prematurely.
Unfortunately, these critics of comprehensive sex education aren’t bothering to read the Youth Risk Behavior Survey that shows that almost 40 percent of all high school students are sexually active.

Yet children, learning sex education at schools that receive federal funding, are purposely not getting the full set of facts. It’s hard for an adult, let alone a child, to make the right decision when information is manipulated to fit a religious or political agenda.
As Bristol Palin, the 18-year-old daughter of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin who recently gave birth to a baby boy, said in an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, expecting abstinence from teenagers is “not realistic at all.”
By the slew of comprehensive sex education bills drafted in this current state legislative season, it’s obvious that abstinence-focused curriculum is finally being addressed for what it is — an ineffective deterrent and inaccurate resource for those kids determined to have sex.
In Texas, which is among the top three states in the nation for the highest teenage pregnancy rates (the other two are New Mexico and Mississippi), there are a total of 14 bills in the Texas legislature having to do with revamping the laws regarding sex education or teen and women’s access to services and information regarding contraception and sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
Florida has a bill that wants to change how sex is taught in schools. According to authors of the Florida bill, known as The Florida Healthy Teens Act, they want to continue the emphasis on the value of abstinence but want teachers to have the freedom to acknowledge, beginning in the sixth grade, that some kids are already sexually active and to teach them about contraceptives and ways to prevent pregnancies and STDs.
In North Carolina, a bill has already been approved requiring a two-track system for sex education for seventh through ninth graders. The new system makes available two different sex education tracks — comprehensive sex education and abstinence until marriage. Parents can choose which track is for their children.
Teenage pregnancy is at epic heights within some communities. It is socially irresponsible to continue to turn a blind eye to the realities that exist while wishing for a different scenario.
It’s only through teaching comprehensive sex education can we hope to achieve the kinds of positive results that comes from equipping students with the full truth about sex and how to practice it safely.
And if a pregnancy should develop, there’s comfort in knowing that those young parents were given every possible bit of information to prevent it, but in the end, they chose their own paths.

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  • Horace
    March 18, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Hmm…Note that Marisa didn’t mention that Latinas have the highest out of wedlock pregnancies of all ethnic/racial groups. She wasn’t shy about this before.
    This is a cultural thing that should be handled at community level, at their expense, by community leaders, not by the state or federal government. Those ethnic/racial groups with unwanted pregnancies have the greatest financial impact on should bear the burden of correcting the situation. It’s not the job of the government to regulate the sexual habits of the citizen. Keep the feds out of the knickers of teenage females.

  • Utah Aztec
    March 19, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Abstinence only, we see how well that worked for Bristol Palin.

  • Anna
    March 19, 2009 at 8:58 am

    This article very nicely states the problem and all of the facts without offending anyone, which is very hard to do. Very nicely done, Marisa.

  • Karen
    March 26, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Horace: If itls not the government’s job to regulate the sexual activity its citizens, then it’s not your job to tell certain ethnic groups that they have to do the same thing. We’re all individuals.

  • Horace
    March 28, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Karen said: Horace: If itls not the government’s job to regulate the sexual activity its citizens, then it’s not your job to tell certain ethnic groups that they have to do the same thing. We’re all individuals.
    But it’s my duty to pay taxes to support unwed Latinos and their off-spring living on welfare in order to bring their standard of living up to a certain level? It may be the law today, but don’t ever expect the rest of us to respect Latinos as a group if they engage in such anti-social behavior. The minute that someone takes the taxpayer’s dollar for welfare they become the subject of public scrutiny and comment. Don’t like it? Just stop having babies out of wedlock or don’t accept a welfare check. The day that the government established welfare as an entitlement is the day that the citizen gave up his right to uncritical sexual behavior. As an example, just look at the Octomom as an example. No one would care about her problem if it didn’t involve the prospect of her sucking on the teat of the welfare rolls. Now she’s hounded by the press and denounced daily.

  • Panchito
    March 28, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Here are the statistics on welfare recipients that I found on the internet:
    According to the statistics, whites form the largest racial group on welfare; half of all welfare recipients leave in the first two years; and teenagers form less than 8 percent of all welfare mothers.
    White 38.8%
    Black 37.2
    Hispanic 17.8
    Asian 2.8
    Other 3.4
    Unfortunately, they are old – 1994. Where did you find your data?

  • Horace
    April 1, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Panchito, fifteen year old data is useless, so may just as well have presented none at all. Tell me the truth. Do you honest believe that few of the 12 million uneducated illegal aliens with families living below the poverty level and potential collectors of Earned Income Tax credits would give up the opportunity to obtain supplemental income in the form of food stamps and welfare? The poor pay no income tax at all in this country, so the rest of us have to pay higher taxes to make up the difference. You would ask the citizen taxpayer to exacerbate this by adding more to the rolls? That’s what you would be opening up the taxpayers to, Panchito. And adding additional poor to the rolls of Social Security recipients would only make it insolvent at a faster rate. Remember that the poor always take more than they put in. The higher proportion of poor there are, the faster the fund is depleted. Lastly, it is contrary to good sense and unstated policy to add millions of illiterate to our population, the product of Mexico’s failure.

  • Horace
    April 1, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Panchito said: “According to the statistics, whites form the largest racial group on welfare; half of all welfare recipients leave in the first two years; and teenagers form less than 8 percent of all welfare mothers.”
    Even if your data were accurate today, Panchito, Hispanics make up a far greater percentage of welfare recipients in proportion to their population. In 2000, Hispanics made up 6 to 7 percent of the population, yet your statistics show that 18 percent are on welfare. Add the statistics up at the following site and you’ll see that proportionately, non-Hispanic whites on welfare are nowhere near their representation in the population. Done in by your own statistics, Panchito. Nice try, but we aren’t the fools that you take us for. (

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