Lions and tigers and condoms, oh my

Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007 - 12:00am

For those students raised in Utah, let me fill you in concerning what you missed in health education class. Sex does happen between unmarried people and there is such a thing as contraceptives. Utah managed to lower the bar of public education with its complete lack of common sense.

Utah policy dictates that all public schools catering to ages K-12 teach abstinence. Abstinence tells people not to have sex, while it takes the title of the only sure method for not getting pregnant or becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases, it side steps the issues.

Why are teenagers interested in sex? As much as you hate to admit, teens are people too. Do teens from religious backgrounds have sex outside of wedlock? Of course they do, anyone who thinks diff erently is ignorant. The time of "Just Say No" is long gone. That stance didn't work with drugs in Reagan's administration and still doesn't work in Utah with sex. I don't know what Utah's deal is - catch up with the times and read your newspapers.

Teen pregnancy rates are high in Utah. A story written in the Deseret News in May of 2007 stated that teen pregnancy rates had been fallen from 2003 with 40 pregnancies for every 1,000 females aged 15-19, to 38 in 2005. This figure is low when compared to the national average of 75 per 1000 in the same age group. Nevertheless, some areas of Utah continue to be well above that average. From the year 2003- 2005, the Rose Park area of Salt Lake City had an average birth rate of 96.5 per 1,000 females, ages 15 to 19, followed by downtown Ogden at 83, and Glendale, an area in Salt Lake County, at 79.8, the story continued. These rates continue to be high not because every person between the ages of 12 and 20 has unprotected sex, rather those who do either don't know about contraceptives or don't have the availability of them.

Pregnancy doesn't happen from holding hands or kissing, it happens when a male and a female have sexual intercourse. Penetration of the penis into the vagina, ejaculation of semen allows sperm to swim towards the egg and eventually penetrate the egg, causing cell division and pregnancy.

Now that there are no more misconceptions, let's talk about how to fix the problem. Passing out condoms and birth control pills will not be the magic cure-all. These will help but the key is education, start talking about the consequences of sex. Don't wait until high school to have teens take lifelike dolls home, start early. This doll, which simulates a real child, can and does make an impact on children's thought processes. Life will slap you in the face when you have a math test the next morning and this doll wakes you up at 5 a.m. and keeps you up because it won't stop crying. It's hard to ignore something that just won't be quiet and literally has a mind of its own. I never had to take one these dolls and I'm sure that there are many more people like me out there.

Make every child in school deal with this reality and just for fun, make sure they get it when they are the busiest. Right in the middle of football season, cheerleading nationals, 4-H, prom and any other big event that happens in high school. Educators should teach teens the proper way to use a condom, don't put it on a banana, use a dildo. After all

boys have a penis and girls should not be surprised about male anatomy. Talk to young girls about the changes in hormone levels when birth-control is used. Sure the pill causes more regular cycles but it also fools the body into thinking it is pregnant.

Do any scientists know what that does to a female? Th ere has not been enough research into the long-term effects that can be caused by the pill. Giving the pill to younger and younger girls seems like a good idea to many, but so did giving heroin to our troops in Korea and Vietnam. For success the withdraw method depends on the ability to pull out right before or right at the height of sexual stimulation.

Kids are going to have sex, do drugs, cheat on tests, shoplift and lie to their parents. With this in mind it is important for authority fi gures to keep lines of communication uncluttered and unbiased with the youth. The time for Utah to start being honest with its youth came in 1896.

Now the state has to play catch up to get respect and trust back. Stop keeping information from young people. It is really sad when college students don't know parts of their own bodies or how to obtain emergency contraception. Why does this happen? Parents and educators need to be held responsible for the lack of knowledge that occurs in Utah. If no one wants to take the blame, I will if it solves the problem.

As much as I would like to say that spewing slander will get people to change their views and practices on this topic, I am not dumb. It will take intelligent people to realize there is a problem, a problem with a solution if we as a state can only defi ne the line of church and state that seems so blurry with this policy. Whatever your religion, whatever your view,

shouldn't the common good be top priority?

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