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Author Topic: Comments on this site
Lex22
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I happened to stumble across this site one day, and felt it was very well designed and had a lot of good information, but thought it was way too biased. The editors editorialize information when just the facts should be given. For instance, the editors seem really concerned about the "abstinence-only" sex ed being taught in schools. First of all, most sex ed programs are not "abstinence-only", so the "problem" isn't as big as they make it out to be. I felt the section on celibacy was written poorly. (Not willing to use the word "abstinence" was so hokey). Who cares if people want to wait until marriage to have sex? Is that so bad? To say that people shouldn't pick an event like marriage to start having sex is like telling people how to live their lives. If someone doesn't want to have sex until the Bills win the Super Bowl, well that's their choice. Plus, most abstinence being taught in sex ed is about waiting until you are older and more mature to have sex (like past high school), not necessarily waiting all the way until marriage. Most teens today are not emotionally ready to be in sexual relationships. (I know I wasn't.) Encouraging teens to wait until they are older and more mature to have sex is a good idea. It will reduce teen pregnancy, STD's, and improve the emotional lives of young people who are at a vulnerable age. Teens should be worrying about grades, activities, and getting into college--not having sex. There's more to life than sex.

Also, the authors make clear on the front page that they are pro-choice. There's nothing wrong with that, but should we care? What I'm getting at is...a site like this should give out INFORMATION, that's it, and have the readers decide for themselves on how to use that information. For instance, abortion should be discussed, but readers should be given the facts (like how abortions are performed, what it's like, etc.) and then have them decide whether or not to be pro-choice, pro-life, or whatever.

Though the site has good information, I think the ultra-liberal views presented alienate a lot of readers and editorialize information that should be left un-biased.


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logic_grrl
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Since you don't have a question related to sexual health, I'm moving this to Staff Stuff.
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KittenGoddess
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quote:
Originally posted by Lex22:
I happened to stumble across this site one day, and felt it was very well designed and had a lot of good information, but thought it was way too biased. The editors editorialize information when just the facts should be given. For instance, the editors seem really concerned about the "abstinence-only" sex ed being taught in schools. First of all, most sex ed programs are not "abstinence-only", so the "problem" isn't as big as they make it out to be.

Speaking as someone who has been involved in teaching sex ed in schools...at least in America, what is presented as sex-ed MUST BE abstinance based if the school in question wishes to recieve government support. We were very carefully instructed in what it was and was not alright to say. I'm not sure how it can "not be as big a problem as we make it out to be" when we get so many kids showing up each day who don't know how to use condoms, don't know how basic human reproduction works, don't understand their periods, are freaked out by their body hair, and have no idea what birth control methods are avaliable to them. To me, the simple fact that we get so much traffic on a daily basis indicates a severe break-down in the system SOMEPLACE. And just to note, alot of them are getting incorrect information in what little sex ed they are presented with in school (sometimes blatently incorrect, and other times where they infer things based upon the incomplete information they recieve).

quote:

I felt the section on celibacy was written poorly. (Not willing to use the word "abstinence" was so hokey).

We advocate using correct words for what one means. If we mean celibacy, then we say celibacy. I'm not sure why it's a problem for us to use terms specifically defining what we mean.

quote:

Who cares if people want to wait until marriage to have sex? Is that so bad? To say that people shouldn't pick an event like marriage to start having sex is like telling people how to live their lives. If someone doesn't want to have sex until the Bills win the Super Bowl, well that's their choice.

Yes, that is their choice. We want them to be able to make an informed choice. If one wants to wait until marriage, that's fine...but we want people to understand that sexual readiness is a process, not something that suddenly happens when you get a little gold ring.

quote:

Plus, most abstinence being taught in sex ed is about waiting until you are older and more mature to have sex (like past high school), not necessarily waiting all the way until marriage. Most teens today are not emotionally ready to be in sexual relationships. (I know I wasn't.) Encouraging teens to wait until they are older and more mature to have sex is a good idea. It will reduce teen pregnancy, STD's, and improve the emotional lives of young people who are at a vulnerable age. Teens should be worrying about grades, activities, and getting into college--not having sex. There's more to life than sex.

And we are encouraging them to wait until they feel that they are ready. Understand that a whole heap of "abstinant" teens are still sexually active. They may not be having intercourse, but they're having alot of other stuff. And those are issues not addressed in abstinance-only sex ed. Having knowledge about how to protect yourself doesn't mean that you're going to run right out and have sex just cause you know how to be safe. It means that you'll be reasonably informed and able to make mature decisions.

quote:

Also, the authors make clear on the front page that they are pro-choice. There's nothing wrong with that, but should we care? What I'm getting at is...a site like this should give out INFORMATION, that's it, and have the readers decide for themselves on how to use that information. For instance, abortion should be discussed, but readers should be given the facts (like how abortions are performed, what it's like, etc.) and then have them decide whether or not to be pro-choice, pro-life, or whatever.

Though the site has good information, I think the ultra-liberal views presented alienate a lot of readers and editorialize information that should be left un-biased.



You'll find that it's nearly impossible to not hold any bias about most things. We try to present out material in a balanced way in order to be fair and to maintain an atmosphere where discussion can occur without blatent hatred, backbiting and general nastiness. I feel that we have presented "facts" about abortion, our articles speak for themselves. Perhaps you're just not seeing the information that you feel is factual, I don't know. We try to be very honest and up front about what this site stands for.

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KittenGoddess
Scarleteen Sexpert (and Labia Lady)


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logic_grrl
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quote:
First of all, most sex ed programs are not "abstinence-only", so the "problem" isn't as big as they make it out to be.

Since 1996, US federal funding has been tied to "abstinence only" programs. And judging by many of the posts we get here, the "problem" of kids receiving inadequate or misleading sex education and ending up in distress or danger as a result is very big indeed.

quote:
I felt the section on celibacy was written poorly. (Not willing to use the word "abstinence"
was so hokey).

Actually, there's a real difference between "celibacy" and "abstinence". "Abstinence" - as the term is currently used - usually refers to refraining from starting sexual activity, or from certain sexual acts, until a certain point (usually marriage) is reached. "Celibacy" means choosing not to have a sexual partner (on either a temporary or permanent basis). It can be chosen at any time, and isn't necessarily about "waiting for" anything. So the two terms have completely different - and in some ways opposite - connotations.

quote:
Who cares if people want to wait until marriage to have sex? Is that so bad? To say that people shouldn't pick an event like marriage to start having sex is like telling people how to live their lives. If someone doesn't want to have sex until the Bills win the Super Bowl, well that's their choice.

Exactly. And no-one here is saying that people shouldn't choose to wait until marriage if they want to. We continually emphasise that people should wait until they are ready and it feels right for them to become sexually active.

On the other hand, if people don't want to wait until marriage, if marriage isn't a goal for them, or if it isn't legally possible for them (for example, if they are gay or lesbian) - well, that's their choice too.

quote:
Most teens today are not emotionally ready to be in sexual relationships. (I know I wasn't.) Encouraging teens to wait until they are older and more mature to have sex is a good idea.

Hey, we're all about waiting until you're completely ready to handle all the possible consequences of sex: Ready or Not? The Readiness Checklist.

But trying to frighten people into delaying sex by promoting fear, ignorance and misinformation doesn't enhance anyone's well-being. The overwhelming bulk of the research evidence suggests that "abstinence only" programs are not only ineffective at delaying the start of sexual activity, they also make it more likely that said sexual activity will occur without contraception or safer sex precautions.

quote:
What I'm getting at is...a site like this should give out INFORMATION, that's it, and have the readers decide for themselves on how to use that information.

This site doesn't receive any public or federal funding. It's supported entirely by private donations and volunteer work. Consequently, what views the site presents is up to its owners and founders. That includes being pro-choice - so that the readers can make their own choices about abortion in their lives.

Here are some links which give more information about the site and why we hold the views we do:

Why Scarleteen?
Why We Are Committed To Reproductive Choice
About Scarleteen And Our Staff
A Calm View From The Eye Of The Storm

But if those don't help clarify things for you, please note that the guidelines stipulate:

quote:
If you have a concern or complaint to lodge with our staff regarding any aspect of Scarleteen or its boards, it should be sent via e-mail to: info@scarleteen.com. It may not be posted at the boards.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Just a couple additional notes on this to clarfiy, though Sarah already explained things very well.

Since 1996, in the United States, there has been NO federal funding for anything BUT abstinence-based programs. That's a fact that can't be disputed, because it's right there in black and white. What that means on a practical level is thatt public schools who want anything else have to fund it themselves, and given the poor state of school funding in the states, that means many cannot, and thus have no choice but to use only those programs which are fedreally funded, most of which are full of gross misinformation and which are also heterosexist by nature and most certainly DO only accept sex in the context of marriage -- you can go ahead anad look at the curricula for the major programs just like I have with a few simple searches.

"What this site should do" is what we want it to do, and what we have found works best for the million of users we have had over the years, with no funding of our own. And what we/I found is that there is a severe lack of sexual information and education that is inclusive, that is more personal and less clinical and that offers what we do, for which there is apparently a need, or we would not have the traffic which we do.

Some of that includes using words which have meaning. We don't use the word "abstinence" here because it doesn't MEAN anything in a practical context. All it means is the act of abstaining, be that from sex, meat, roller skating, or what have you. Celibacy is the term which means abstaining from partnered sex. We use correct langauge there the same way we don't call the vulva the vagina, because that too, is simply not correct. A lot of educating about sex is teaching the correct language so when a person discusses sex, it's easier to be clear.

Teenagers have been sexually active from puberty onward since, literally, the dawn of man. Not more than a couple hundred years ago, teens married at 12, 13, 14. So, I have to beg to differ with you there: as someone who has made a living as an educator for over a decade, and worked with this poulation specifically for years. Many teens are emotionally ready (many are not practically ready, however, or on an emotional level, considering everything involved) for different types of sexual activities and sexual partnerships. But that's not our place to dictate, something which I'd expect you'd support or understand if you're requesting information be given without bias or agenda, because saying such about such a large population is an agenda all its own. What it seems you're asking isn't that we have no agenda or bias, but instead that we have a different one.

Lastly, we state we are pro-choice because WE care and because WE feel it is important to lobby for, especially at this point in time. And a pro-choice stance does not exclude information on any of the available choices. That is what it means to be pro-choice. Numerous times on the boards here we have, in fact, explained, in detail, how abortions, childbirth and adoption can work.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Lex22
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Thanks for replying to my post! When I had sex ed in middle school and later in high school health class (early to mid 90's), we were taught about BOTH birth control and abstinence. The sex ed I had in school was very unbiased--we were taught how stuff worked, what kind of birth control was out there, how that worked, etc. Abstinence was presented as a method of birth control. We were just given the facts, and that was it (no moralizing, etc.). Since this was my sex ed experience, I just assumed that this was everyone else's. (Except those who go to religous schools, that is.) Then again, I live in a pretty "liberal" state (New York). It could be that in more conservative states, this is not the case.

Also, you said that only schools that teach abstinence-only sex ed programs can receive federal funding. While I cannot verify this, it's important to know that most public schools are funded by state and local governments as well. In fact, most public schools receive their funding from these sources. But that is a shame that the federal government will only fund certain types of sex ed programs, if that is indeed the case. But I wonder how much lack of federal funding is hurting the sex ed programs?

Also, you said in your post that you felt it was OK for people to save sex for marriage, but from reading what you posted in your article, I didn't get that impression. I guess it needs to be reworded a bit?

Also, the word "abstinence" is generally meant to mean in our society as what you would call "celibicy". When people hear the word "abstinence", they know what it means. If you want to get caught up in semantics, that's fine, I'm just pointing out that most people know that when they say "abstinence", they mean "celibicy".

Also, that's fine that you're pro-choice, I just thought that teens would benefit from a non-biased viewpiont. I learned what abortion was from my mom at age 10, who told me in the most matter-of-fact, non-biased way possible. (I wish I remembered her exact words so I can say the same to my kids!) In fact, I STILL don't know how my mom stands on the issue. She never brought her own beliefs or politics into the discussion. I thought this was amazing. It wasn't until much later that I formed my own educated opinion. I just wish everyone could learn about abortion and sex the way I did--in a non-biased way that leaned in neither direction. But I understand that it's your site, and you can do what you want. I guess it's just not the site for me.


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Heather
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quote:
I'm just pointing out that most people know that when they say "abstinence", they mean "celibicy"

The thing is, every single day, numerous times, on this site we are shown clearly that abstinence very much does NOT mean celibacy to most young adults, something Sarah mentioned.

In fact, very few teens we've seen here who consider themselves abstinent are celibate: for most of them, "abstinence" means "everything but penis-in-vagina intercourse," or at least some other sexual activities, and usually that's really arbitrary. So, your assumption that it's a clear term everyone agrees on simply doesn't tend to hold water in practice, here at Scarleteen, or as has been shown via other groups and organizations keeping track of how abstinence-based methods are working (or, not working, as is more the case).

And really, one can oly talk in an unbiased way about reproductive issues from a standpoint of choice. If any of those choices are condiered "bad" there is simply no way of presenting information on all of them without bias. One has to support choice -- and make clear that any of those choices are acceptable, waht's best based only on what's best for an individual -- to discuss choices freely.

As for the state of sex ed right now, the links logic_grrl gave you talk about some of that, and you can certainly become more informed with a few simple web searches, or by reading up at organizations like Advocates for Youth and SIECUS.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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KittenGoddess
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quote:
Originally posted by Lex22:
Also, you said that only schools that teach abstinence-only sex ed programs can receive federal funding. While I cannot verify this, it's important to know that most public schools are funded by state and local governments as well. In fact, most public schools receive their funding from these sources. But that is a shame that the federal government will only fund certain types of sex ed programs, if that is indeed the case. But I wonder how much lack of federal funding is hurting the sex ed programs?

I'm not sure how much local and state funding the schools in your area recieve, but I can assure you that in many many areas it's not nearly as much as what you think. Especially in rural areas and in the inner city. And in those areas, those schools need every single penny they can get in order to provide chairs and desks, books, and keep the roof from caving in. Make no mistake about it, school budgets are tight everywhere. Most schools cannot afford to lose their federal funding. And frankly, when schools need every dollar to keep the building standing and the buses running, sex ed falls to the bottom of the priority list many times.

I'd suggest you have a look at this page at the Advocates for Youth site that details the history of abstinance only sex ed funding.

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Sarah Liz
Scarleteen Sexpert (and Labia Lady)


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Lex22
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Just a question--I've been reading in the media recently that more teens are choosing to post-pone sexual activity (past high school at least). What do you attribute this to? Is it the abstinence sex ed programs, or something else? I don't know the answer to this, so I was wondering if you knew.
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Heather
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Actually, that's a half-truth. More teens are postponing sexual intercourse, not sexual activities overall.

And some of that is likely due to those programs, and it's not simply the good thing it sounds like. While that may curb teenage pregnancy, teenage pregnancy is really only a financial/cultural issue, not a health issue -- older teens are actually better physically suited for childbirth than women my age are. What it also appears to be doing is contributing to the ever-rising rates of STDs and STIs in teens, many of whom, via those programs, are given such partial information or misinformation that they believe that anything that is NOT intercourse (manual sex, oral sex, anal sex) is therefore safe and risk-free, emotionally and physically.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Lex22
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You said:
"Not more than a couple hundred years ago, teens married at 12, 13, 14."

True...but they were mostly forced, arranged marriages to men twice their age. True, they were sexually active, but against their wills. And most were not ready at this time to have sex and have babies. But since they were forced to get married, they had no choice. So not a very good example. (I know that's totally off-subject, but I thought I'd point that out).


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lemming
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I think something that's very important here that has not yet been pointed out is how very much the "abstinence till marriage" thing alienates lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

Marriage is not an option for many people, and suggesting that everyone should wait to have partnered sex until they are married would go against the safe, caring environment and moderated discussion we are trying to foster.

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Laurel Lemming
Scarleteen Advocate

"Maypole/The ties that bind you will unwind/To free me one day/And everything decays..." - XTC, "The Wheel and the Maypole"

[This message has been edited by lemming (edited 04-22-2003).]


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Lex22
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quote:
Originally posted by lemming:
I think something that's very important here that has not yet been pointed out is how very much the "abstinence till marriage" thing alienates lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

Marriage is not an option for many people, and suggesting that everyone should wait to have partnered sex until they are married would go against the safe, caring environment and moderated discussion we are trying to foster.


Good point! But it's important to note that the same people who advocate abstinence-only sex ed (and saving sex until marriage) are usually the same people who believe that sex with someone of the same gender is wrong. They think sex should be between a man and a woman (usually husband and wife). It's important to understand that these people live in a different "world" than you do--one that has it's own set of rules and mores. In their "world", saving sex until marriage is a viable option for everybody, since they believe everyone is (and should be) straight. It's a totally different way of thinking. However, as you said, for many people it is not a viable option. But gay people usually don't come to mind when saving sex until marriage is being advocated. Because for them, homosexuality is a whole other "issue" in itself!


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Milke
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quote:
It's important to understand that these people live in a different "world" than you do--one that has it's own set of rules and mores.

I know, that's one of the reasons it can be difficult to try to serve many different people at the same time. Do realise that we'd like to be able to reach as many people as possible, and show respect for everyone, but sometimes it can be hard to be fair about that sort of thing. It's pretty tough sometimes to let someone know that while we understand they feel a certain way, and they're certainly entitled to feel that way, expressing those feelings may be very liable to upset someone else. I guess it's important to realise that while opinions can certainly clash, I do believe the vast majority of people at these site certainly mean well.

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Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP

I still love you, oh, I still love you
...Only slightly, only slightly less than I used to


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Heather
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Bear in mind that the entire concept of romantic love didn't exist until about the mid-16th century. So, marriage was simply an entirely different thing, and looking at it through the lens of romantic ideals now is a bit warped. It may, from here, look forced or unromantic, but that's because, for the most part, few of us can imagine a world where the concept of romantic love didn't exist, or where marriage wasn't about that at all, or where that wasn't the ideal.

At the time, for most of history, that was convention, marriage was a contract (mainly having to do with family, companionship and land), and most people back then would not have found it too oppresssive because it was what they knew, and how things simply went. As well, biologically speaking, people who are in puberty ARE actually physically ready for vvarious kids of sex and childbirth and rearing, though that obviously varies based on other personality and devlopmental factors interpersonally and emotionally.

Certainly, the folks writing ab-ed curricula live in a different world, and that is certainly their right. However, when their views and ideals are imposed, even via laws, on everyone, it's a serious problem and it is at that point that what is their right becomes pretty murky. While we certainly have our own views as well, the real difference is that our approach is inclusive, rather than exclusive. No one is simply forgotten or dismissed or shoved out because their orientation or sexual lifestyle may not be shared with any one of us or common to our own.

And lastly, we "gay people" and bisexual people certainly have our own sets of issues to deal with, some of which straight folks don't, but for the most part, it really isn't all that different when you get to the bare bones of things. And interestingly enough, some abstracts recently done on issues of virginity show that queer people tended to have more enjoyable and well-balanced first-time-sex experiences than those who are not, something which likely has nothing to do with not being heterosexual, and a whole lot more to do with not having to bear the weight of a lot of negative social conditioning that heterosexual youth are given, such as in most of those programs.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Lex22
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OK, this message thread has totally gone off on a tangent. All I wanted to say was that I felt that the site gave a lot of good information, but that some (not all) of it seemed to presented in a biased/editorialized way. I didn't want to be discussing the nature of homosexual relationships or marriage practices of 100 years ago! I just like to throw in my two cents every once in a while. I just have different views than the editors, that's all. For instance, I don't have a problem with abstinence sex ed, because I think abstinence can be a positive thing for many people. And plus, if teens want to know about birth control and other stuff they're not learning from their sex ed curriculums, they will have no problem finding that information from other sources (like this site, or magazines, books, their doctor, etc.--teens are flodded with so many sources these days!). For instance, my biggest source of birth control information actually came from Seventeen and YM magazines! But I like my information to be more "clinical" and not so much "personalized". So I guess I should stick with WebMD...

Anyway, that is all I wanted to say. Take care!


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KittenGoddess
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quote:
Originally posted by Lex22:
For instance, I don't have a problem with abstinence sex ed, because I think abstinence can be a positive thing for many people.

Again, we have NO PROBLEM with abstinance. Abstinance is a great thing! And if that's a choice that works best for an individual, then that's really great. However, saying that that is the only way and denying kids access to honest, truthful information is not alright. Frankly, it's lying. I'm not sure how much research you've done...but if you've done your homework, you'd find that most experts agree that abstinance only sex ed does not work. Statistically it just doesn't hold water.


quote:
And plus, if teens want to know about birth control and other stuff they're not learning from their sex ed curriculums, they will have no problem finding that information from other sources (like this site, or magazines, books, their doctor, etc.--teens are flodded with so many sources these days!). For instance, my biggest source of birth control information actually came from Seventeen and YM magazines! But I like my information to be more "clinical" and not so much "personalized". So I guess I should stick with WebMD...

Honey, I don't know when the last time you picked up a Seventeen or YM or Cosmo was, but I can assure you that NO ONE should be getting their safer sex info from there. It's incomplete, it's incorrect, it's just plain bad. Seriously. There's more info about how to "give a good blow job" or "rock his world all night" than about how to keep from getting herpes. Alot of their information is out dated and incorrect. If I had a child, I'd literally be frightened for them if the source of their information about sex was a magazine. Additionally, those mags give a terribly incorrect image of what sex really is. If it were up to me, such crap would not be published and made available to teens as "legitimate" information. And as far as talking to their doctors...have you read some of the posts here? I can assure you that alot of teens are NOT talking to their doctors. They're scared and too embarassed to ask for information.

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Sarah Liz
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[This message has been edited by KittenGoddess (edited 04-24-2003).]


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Heather
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It's also worth noting that holding up sites like this one as "fallback" or a way to clean up holes or misinformation in ab-ed curricula just isn't sound, because we aren't a given, as we operate without funding, which the ab-ed folks have nearing the billions at this point.

So, it's great to be appreciated, and I'm glad we can be here, but our postion is incredibly fragile, not just financially, but politically. The ab-ed lobby would be VERY glad to see sites like ours made unavailable, and through some initiatives, which include things like site blocking in schools, it already is made unavailable.


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didi
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This site does a good job in the way they present information, Lex. Think about it- if the information on this site was served up cold, with just the facts- would the nature and purpose of the scarleteen been adequately served? It can be hard to find support in this world, and that seems to be what many people need when they come here (in my opinion, of course). Without giving their opinion, the site would be dehumanized. You might as well just go and read a text book. Nobody wants to read a text book when such an alternative exists. If you do not want the opinion of the staff, then go somewhere else. The site exists because it supports safe, educated sex, among other things. There is nothing wrong with giving your opinion. The information is still there.

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Dzuunmod
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That's a good point, didi. This site isn't WebMD, it isn't the American Centers for Disease Control and it isn't the U.S. Census Bureau.

If this site took an approach like those ones, there wouldn't be so many young people interested in it.

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...and we raise the white flag, so they can paint it red and blue!
-Joel Plaskett, True Patriot Love


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Lex22
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quote:
Originally posted by didi:
Without giving their opinion, the site would be dehumanized. You might as well just go and read a text book. Nobody wants to read a text book when such an alternative exists.

I like textbooks!


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Lex22
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quote:
Originally posted by didi:
There is nothing wrong with giving your opinion.

Same goes for me too!


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Lex22
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quote:
Originally posted by didi:
If you do not want the opinion of the staff, then go somewhere else.

I have been going somewhere else--I keep coming back here because people keep responding to my messages! :P

(Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.)


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logic_grrl
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quote:
For instance, I don't have a problem with abstinence sex ed, because I think abstinence can be a positive thing for many people.

I think you may be misunderstanding the nature of "abstinence-only sex ed" here. It certainly does not consist of presenting abstinence (or celibacy) as one possible option that may be positive for some people; it consists of presenting abstinence until marriage as the only option for everyone, and specifically bars providing information on contraception and safer sex.

And it typically includes factually inaccurate claims - for example, that sex before marriage is inherently emotionally damaging or leads to divorce - and extremely moralized judgements - for example, that losing one's virginity is equivalent to losing one's "purity", or that homosexuality is "sinful".

As a result, the clinical data suggests that "abstinence-only sex ed" is at best ineffective and at worst destructive: people who only get "abstinence-only sex ed" may be far more likely to have sex which is unplanned and unprotected.

quote:
I like textbooks!

Me too . And the advocates and sexperts here do refer to textbooks and to sites like WebMD or the CDC in order to ensure that the factual information we give out here is accurate and up-to-date.

But a "textbook" approach can't provide answers to many of the questions that users come here asking - for example, about how they decide what is right for them, how they communicate with partners, how they can become more comfortable with their bodies or more accepting of their sexual orientation and choices.


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Lex22
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quote:
Originally posted by logic_grrl:
I think you may be misunderstanding the nature of "abstinence-only sex ed" here. It certainly does not consist of presenting abstinence (or celibacy) as one possible option that may be positive for some people; it consists of presenting abstinence until marriage as the only option for everyone, and specifically bars providing information on contraception and safer sex.

And it typically includes factually inaccurate claims - for example, that sex before marriage is inherently emotionally damaging or leads to divorce - and extremely moralized judgements - for example, that losing one's virginity is equivalent to losing one's "purity", or that homosexuality is "sinful".

As a result, the clinical data suggests that "abstinence-only sex ed" is at best ineffective and at worst destructive: people who only get "abstinence-only sex ed" may be far more likely to have sex which is unplanned and unprotected.


I never had abstinence-only sex ed, so I cannot judge this kind of approach. I think the reason why this approach is not working with many people (as you say) is because the teens are not making the decision to stay abstinent in their own hearts and souls. Choosing to save sex until marriage is a big decision that requires a lot of dedication, willpower, and discipline on the part of the participant. Some teens just "say" they are going to be abstinent just to appease their parents, church, teachers, peers, whoever. But they don't make the decision in their own hearts. They don't dedicate themselves to it. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

My original argument was this (sorry if it wasn't clear the first time): getting sex information from multiple sources is always your best bet. Even if your school has the best sex ed program in the world, it's always a good idea to get a different perspective from other sources like books, your parents, your church (if you go to one), your doctor, web sites (like this one), etc. I'm not endorsing any one particular source or suggesting that everyone should get their info from these sources (they're just examples), but it's almost impossible to get all the information you need from one exclusive source. Unfortunately, schools can't teach everything (that goes for all subjects, and not just sex ed--for instance, did you learn everything about the fields of biology or mathematics in high school? I doubt it). So what I was originally saying is that, even if teens are getting abstinent-only sex ed, they can find the information they feel they are not getting (like about birth control, STD's, etc.) from other sources. They just need to do a little leg work on their part. But it's there, and available. (Then again, I'm speaking from my perspective--I am, and always was, a very resourceful person who could find just about any information I needed. I can't speak for others, though.)

People today need to be proactive, and not expect that school is going to give them all the information they need or want. Because, as you've pointed out, many schools are lacking when it comes to teaching sex ed.

But what do you think? Do you think that schools should be expected to teach EVERYTHING about sex? If not everything, then what aspects of sex SHOULD be taught?


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Heather
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Here's the thing: if I were a parent, and my child, in history class, was studying World War Two and was given revisionist history which stated that genocide didn't happen, or was told that really, the camps weren't THAT bad, I'd be pretty darn steamed, because what I expect of education in schools is accuracy.

So, as an educator and nothing more, I don't think that students should be told condoms have holes in them which they do not have, nor that use of birth control methods should not be taught because they stand counter to a religious agenda (and if they aren't taught, you're not allowing a student to choose abstinence -- you're backing them into a corner where their choice is to do so or to go blind into something else, and you're making it clear you are invested in them making the choice YOU want them to make, not what is best for them), nor that GLBT issues should be conveniently removed altogether as if to pretend we and they do not exist, or to silence us into invisibility. That given and as well, there is inherent bigotry in ab-only (rather than ab-plus) curricula because it informs ONLY those students who are heterosexual, who plan to become married, and at that, bear children in those marriages (and take risks of STIs in them, no less -- mind you, some of the biggest STI epidemics in our history were not among single people).

So, do schools have to teach everything? Absolutely not. But if they're calling a class "sex education," yet refusing to teach anything about sex, giving misinformation about sex, or, really, doing everything in their power NOT to teach about sex at every turn, it ain't sex ed.

And again, relying on there being alternative sources is incredibly tenuous right now. Not supporting them -- and supporting having them be brought to the table -- is tantamount to helping our current administration make them as hard to access as possible. I think having a wide range of sources is totally ideal as well. But I also know that planning on them always being there, easy, isn't sound (again, the billions put in ab-ed funding is money being taken away from sexual health clinics and comprehensive sex ed), and know that that accessibility isn't ther for everyone, including some of those who need it most -- low-income youth who don't have home PCs, for instance, may not be able to use the computers at the library to find sites like Scarleteen because of mandates to nanny the web.

...you say you like lots of sources of information, yet say you can't judge how ab-only curricula or programs work because you don't know anything about them (yet still are discussing their merits). So, why not do some legwork and look at some of those curricula for yourself before you discuss it further?

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 04-30-2003).]


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logic_grrl
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quote:
I think the reason why this approach is not working with many people (as you say) is because the teens are not making the decision to stay abstinent in their own hearts and souls.

Let's bear in mind that it's not a decision that everyone wants to make in the first place. There are plenty of people who do not believe that there is anything wrong with sex before marriage. And, as has been pointed out, there are plenty of people for whom legal marriage is not even an option to begin with.

For people to make a decision "in their own hearts and souls", it has to be voluntary, not forced on them regardless of their own wishes and choices through fear and misinformation.

quote:
even if teens are getting abstinent-only sex ed, they can find the information they feel they are not getting (like about birth control, STD's, etc.) from other sources. They just need to do a little leg work on their part. But it's there, and available.

Only because of sites like this - which are run entirely on the basis of private donations and volunteer labor.

And a significant amount of the work which we do involves correcting misinformation which users have picked up from other sources, whether that's the media or "abstinence-only sex education" or other sources.


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Lex22
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
...you say you like lots of sources of information, yet say you can't judge how ab-only curricula or programs work because you don't know anything about them (yet still are discussing their merits). So, why not do some legwork and look at some of those curricula for yourself before you discuss it further?


I'm not discussing the merits of abstinence-only sex ed, I just thought that, no matter what kind of sex ed someone gets in school, he/she would benefit from seeking other sources of information, that's all.


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Lucky1402
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quote:
So what I was originally saying is that, even if teens are getting abstinent-only sex ed, they can find the information they feel they are not getting (like about birth control, STD's, etc.) from other sources. They just need to do a little leg work on their part.

I agree that it would be an exellent idea for teens to get additional info from sources other than their sex ed class (if they even have one). But you, being (or having been at one point) in high school yourself, must notice that many students do not even realize further info outside of their sex ed classroom even exists. A lot of them hold the false understanding that the things their class teaches are the only facts that are out there, and that everything they hear in school is the complete truth. Students cannot very well search other sources for the information they feel they are not getting if they don't even know that they aren't getting all of the info. How can someone be interested in finding further details if they are never told that further details even exist? I can't even count the number of my peers at school who are unaware that you can contract STDs from oral sex, that birth control methods beyond condoms and the pill even exist, or that they can obtain birth control without their parents' consent. It truly scares me, because those students who don't know those things, who are aware of only the basics they learned in sex ed or health class, are doing things that can endanger their lives and the lives of their partners.

I would be overjoyed if more people had the motivation to learn about sex before they decided to do it.

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~*Scarleteen Advocate

"I hate broccoli. And yet, in a certain sense- I AM broccoli." --The Tick

[This message has been edited by Lucky1402 (edited 04-30-2003).]


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lemming
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Especially because many teachers could lose their jobs over even making their students aware that a resource like Scarleteen exists; I know this from personal experience.

My mother is an 8th grade science teacher in Texas with no sex ed training, abstinence only or otherwise, who has been told she is to teach the approved curriculum to her students. I told her about Scarleteen, and she agreed it would be marvelous to send her kids there, but she and I both know that this situation has come up before and been shot down by the administration. Why? Possible lost funding for ab-only sex ed.

It's like blackmail.

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Laurel Lemming
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"Maypole/The ties that bind you will unwind/To free me one day/And everything decays..." - XTC, "The Wheel and the Maypole"


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Lex22
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quote:
Originally posted by Lucky1402:
I agree that it would be an exellent idea for teens to get additional info from sources other than their sex ed class (if they even have one). But you, being (or having been at one point) in high school yourself, must notice that many students do not even realize further info outside of their sex ed classroom even exists. A lot of them hold the false understanding that the things their class teaches are the only facts that are out there, and that everything they hear in school is the complete truth. Students cannot very well search other sources for the information they feel they are not getting if they don't even know that they aren't getting all of the info. How can someone be interested in finding further details if they are never told that further details even exist? I can't even count the number of my peers at school who are unaware that you can contract STDs from oral sex, that birth control methods beyond condoms and the pill even exist, or that they can obtain birth control without their parents' consent. It truly scares me, because those students who don't know those things, who are aware of only the basics they learned in sex ed or health class, are doing things that can endanger their lives and the lives of their partners.

I would be overjoyed if more people had the motivation to learn about sex before they decided to do it.


I think it's sad that some teens don't think there is any info beyond what they are learning in their sex ed classes. I was never like this. I learned these things at a very young age, from various sources. I always felt more comfortable learning sex ed from sources outside of the classroom anyway, since I always felt awkward learning sex ed from a teacher in a classroom setting among a whole room full of my peers. I'm not sure how informed my peers were about sex, since I never asked. My high school friends and I were a very celibate bunch, so sex wasn't a big issue at the time. I'm only speaking from my own experience, since that's the only experience I have to go on!


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