Sex Education Is A Political Act.
This guest post from Arvan at SexGenderBody is part of a blog carnival to raise awareness and funding for Scarleteen.
In terms of group politics - there are large groups of people who are fighting to prevent you from learning any facts about sex. Facts that can effect your health, income, present, future, career, happiness, ability to have or enjoy sex, choice of sex partners and even the ability to have sex.
People get elected by using sex to scare voters - queer sex, teen sex, unmarried sex, kinky sex, fun sex, sex of any kind. Cultural practices and commonly held beliefs about sex punish or shame people for even discussing sex, much less teaching it to a classroom.
Organized religions and self-appointed 'holy men' claim to speak for their god in calling sex a sin. Sex is a fact of mammalian evolution and humans are mammals. That undisputable, proven fact is a direct challenge to the notion of sin and therefore a challenge to any religious or secular institution that believes that sex is a sin.
In the arena of personal politics - young people are dependent upon those who come before us to offer up the knowledge of previous generations - or they can withhold it. As teens we struggle with asking the adults in our lives for information, guidance and the benefit of their experience on one hand, while on the other hand - we wish to assert our own judgment and choices.
What you are told about sex is a political act.
People who may or may not have your interests in mind spend a lot of time shaping the information you receive about sex because they want you to make decisions that favor them or their world view. What is best for them may not be what is best for you. The only way for you to make an informed decision is for you to have facts.
Who opposes sex education? Who gains from opposing it?
Over $1.5 billion of taxpayer money was spent during the eight years of George W. Bush to put money into mostly religious organizations to provide "Abstinence Only". It has been proven to be not only ineffective but completely unhelpul at reducing teen pregnancy, transmission of STDs, delaying of intercourse or any of its claimed benefits. The Guttmacher Institute shows that a rise in teen pregnancy and teen abortion accompanied the national shift from comprehensive sex education toward abstinence only.
People make money by fighting sex education. People make a lot of money claiming that sex is a sin and pretending that abstinence is a substitute for knowledge. They spend a lot of money to keep you uninformed. And they play for keeps.
So, ask yourself why someone is hiding facts from you? What do they gain and what do you stand to lose? The answer is: your life.
What are the results of no sex education?
There are the standard considerations: teen pregnancy, STI's, poverty, career, family, maturity, education and health. Each of them is important and will no doubt be discussed by others in this blog carnival.
Equally as important, is the impact it has on your ability to choose your own life and to also choose the terms by which you identify and are recognized as by others. Will you choose the terms of your own life based on your decisions or will your life be dictated by people you have never met for reasons known only to them and made without consulting you?
Who you will become is determined by what you learn about your body.
"I don't think about politics" - but politics is thinking about you.
People are working to decide and limit who you are now, who you can be and what you can do about it. You may trust that it's not worth worrying about and that you will be fine. Your life is at stake, whether you think about it or not. Yours, your lovers' and possibly your children.
Knowledge is power. The power over one's own life, one's own identity and body are at the core of basic rights due to each and every one of us.
Do you want to make decisions about your body, your sexuality and your gender based on facts and your values - or would you rather take advice from someone that formed their views of sexuality when segregation was legal and women were told to stay home, bake cookies and clean the house? Or, even an Abstinence Clown?
Someone has to teach those who have yet to learn.
That's where Scarleteen comes in. Scarleteen has been the premier online sexuality resource for young people worldwide since 1998, and has the longest tenure of any sex education resource expressly for young people online. We have consistently provided free, inclusive, comprehensive and positive sex education, information and one-on-one support to millions, and have never shied away from discussing sexuality as more than merely posing potential risks, but as posing potential benefits, something rarely seen in young adult sex education. We built the online model for teen and young adult sex education and have never stopped working hard to sustain, refine and expand it.
What you might not know is that Scarleteen is the highest ranked online young adult sexuality resource but also the least funded and that the youth who need us most are also the least able to donate. You might not know that we have done all we have with a budget typically lower than the median annual household income in the U.S. You might not know we have provided the services we have to millions without any federal, state or local funding and that we are and have always been fully independent media which depends on public support to survive and grow.
Scarleteen has some bills and we're asking for help in paying them. They do a great job and have made the crucial difference in the lives of many people over the years.