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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » The Randoms » On Abstinence-Only Sex Education from a Former Catholic Schoolgirl

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Author Topic: On Abstinence-Only Sex Education from a Former Catholic Schoolgirl
LadyKay
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Dear Heather (and other Scarleteen forum readers),

I know millions of people have written to thank you for everything you do at Scarleteen – it’s a truly amazing site. It has been a real pillar of help and support in my life, as I am one of the many sexual abuse survivors that have sought your help in the forums. You were there when I was terrified to share my story with anyone, and for that, I am so very grateful.

However, the thing that inspired me to finally pick up the pen (metaphorically, at least) and write you was the way in which you have been highlighting the shortcomings of abstinence-only sex education – most recently with the “Boys are Microwaves, Girls are Crockpots” post. I think this is an absolutely brilliant thing to be doing. There are so many teens that are inundated with this kind of teaching from the time they are children. And when they start experimenting with their bodies and acting on their natural sexuality, they are often taken advantage of and hurt. As one of those teens (now a young woman in my twenties), I hope you will allow me to share some of the highlights from my abstinence-only sex education textbook.

I grew up in a small, private Catholic school, where our sex education was part of religion class. The biology of the reproductive system was never taught, nor was any information on venereal disease or contraception. In fact, we were often advised against the use of condoms, as it went against the Catholic religion. Nobody ever warned us against the dangers of unprotected sex, since it was assumed that we were all abstinent.

The purpose of sexual intercourse was defined in our book as “a sacred act designed by God to provide pleasure to a husband and a wife and at times a new life. There is no other proper way to bring children into the world.”

The roles of men and women were taught to us very clearly. Of women, our book stated:
“The wife’s vocation is motherhood…a wife is also a manager, a teacher, a nurse, and a creative and versatile playmate for her children.”
“God has entrusted to her the sublime task of bringing children into the world…that is why the Creator gave women an abundance of tenderness and compassion.”
“A woman is moved to pleasure, sadness, fear, or anxiety by what seem to be merely trifles. Ask her to explain her reaction and she cannot.”
“The Industrial Revolution removed women from their place in the home and put them to work in the factory.”
“[Women] were told that they were gaining equality with men, but found themselves caught up in an agenda that included joining men in military combat.”
“A woman is not meant to do what a man does, and when she attempts this, she loses her feminine dignity.”
“A true wife submits to her husband…she trusts her husband completely and is quite happy to follow him.”

And young men were taught to conform to these descriptions:
“ The husband’s vocation is leadership. Man, in the providence of God, was meant to be the head of the home.”
“He must be strong, a good provider, a teacher to his children, and an inspiration to his wife.”
“He must be the head of the family, just as the woman is the heart of the family. “

Our book had this to say about dating and teen relationships:
“Young people who begin dating in the sixth, seventh, or eighth grades are on the road to serious moral trouble.”
“Individual dating should not begin until junior or senior year of high school, and even then, double dating is to be preferred.”
“Going steady is dangerous to the moral, emotional, and intellectual health of teenagers…it is the same as the courtship period when a man and a woman evaluate each other as potential marriage partners for life, so unless a couple is seriously contemplating getting married in the near future, going steady should be forbidden.”
“Premarital sex is not the fulfilling experience that the promoters of promiscuity would have you believe.”
“What kind of ‘love’ is it that asks a young girl to give up cheaply [before marriage] the precious gift of her virtue, that exposes her to possible illegitimate pregnancy, that causes her to abandon her moral convictions, or that asks her to jeopardize her eternal salvation?”
“Purity is security.”
“Women are not to lead another person into sin through word, action, or provocative dress.”

On InVitro Fertilization and Contraception:
“The birth of Louise Joy Brown as the world’s first “test-tube baby” in 1978 was a major step on the road to the ‘Brave New World’ envisioned by Aldous Huxly in his fictional account of the creation of human beings in a laboratory.”
“Not well known are the negative aspects of IVF, including sperm banks, which enable single women and lesbians to impregnate themselves.”
“Contraception is always and everywhere evil, immoral, and sinful.”

I won’t even start on the abortion list, because this open letter would never end. Let it suffice to say that throughout the chapter, Pro-Choice supporters are referred to as “Anti-Lifers,” and abortion itself is referred to as “The Silent Holocaust.”

I know this has been a long and perhaps cynical-sounding letter. Please know that I do not intend to ridicule the beliefs of others. I am of the opinion that if this is what one chooses to believe in their adulthood, then that is perfectly fine. However, I think that it is wrong to willingly and purposefully withhold potentially life-changing sexual education from teenagers. I wanted to share these highlights in order to draw attention to the kinds of things that are still being taught to high school students today. I think your call for advocacy is admirable, and I want to do whatever I can to support it. Thank you again, for everything you do to help make this a safer and more knowledgeable world for teenagers, when it comes to navigating their own sexuality.

Posts: 13 | From: Virginia | Registered: Oct 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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LadyKay: thanks so much for this. We've been protesting abstinence-only programs ever since we came online in the late nineties. I agree, the videos Amplify have been putting out there are great, and one really good way to make clear how problematic so many of these programs are.

I wish I could say I was surprised by what you've quoted here. [Frown] Alas, I'm not, but it's great you took the time, because so many people still don't understand what so many of these programs contain, absolutely including these kinds of sentiments.

(Plus, I'm now seriously considering adding "promoter of promiscuity" to my business card. Thanks for that. [Razz] )

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67055 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LadyKay
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HA. You are a fabulous "promoter of promiscuity." Thank you again for everything you do. [Smile]
Posts: 13 | From: Virginia | Registered: Oct 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Yep, that's me, Heather Corinna, PP.

Oy vey. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67055 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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