“How do people express their sexual feelings?”
A poster that hung in Hocker Grove Middle School in Shawnee, Kan asked this question. Below, it gave examples of ways that individuals can express themselves sexually: from holding hands to dancing to oral sex.
In January 2014, it was taken down. Then the abstinence-based sexual education program it was part of was put under review. An offended parent caused the Shawnee Mission School Board to take action when an eighth grader took a picture of the poster and showed it to her father.
The ensuing controversy over the amount of sexuality that minors are exposed to at school caused two Johnson County Kansas state senators to introduce Senate Bill 376. It would require schools across the state to obtain written consent from a parent or guardian before a child can receive any sexual education.
The Harbinger believes that Senate Bill 376 should be struck down. Requiring parents to sign off on sexual education for their child as if it was an R-rated movie means that our state has changed the way it views sexual education.
Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook of Shawnee, referring to explicit words and images in sexual education class, said that the bill was born out of the need to “protect our children from this harmful material.”
This bill denies that sexual education is necessary for a child’s development, viewing it as an optional add-on. It affirms that adult sexuality is something that young people need to be protected from, rather than prepared for. It affirms that it is harmful, when it is precisely the opposite.
The National Survey of Family Growth showed that young people who have received comprehensive sexual education were more likely to use condoms or birth control methods the first time they have sex than their peers that didn’t. Moreover, they were more likely to have healthier partnerships for that first time.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that nearly half of high schoolers are sexually active. If that’s true, then it’s completely illogical for our state government to take steps away from comprehensive sexual education. This is not a matter of protecting children from words like ‘oral sex.’ It’s a matter of our health.
According to the CDC, even though teenagers make up a quarter of the total sexually active population, people between the ages of 15 and 24 acquire half of all sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These diseases, such as AIDS, gonorrhea and chlamydia, are serious. The best defense against them is knowledge.
In order to protect our access to this knowledge, we should send a message that topics regarding our own health are not to be meddled with. The Harbinger encourages its readers to contact their state representatives — Barbara Bollier and Kay Wolf for Prairie Village — and encourage them to vote against Senate Bill 376.