linked up: Bristol Palin and Sex Education

Hello All. It’s Thursday and this linked up is all about sex education.

1. Yesterday everyone was posting tweeting about Bristol Palin’s PSA to raise awareness about teen pregnancy. In case you haven’t seen it, I’ve posted the PSA below (it also includes a brief interview with Palin):

Gine Serpe at EOnline argues that Palin’s message boils down to: “I’m privileged, so it’s OK that I got pregnant, but you’re not, so don’t.” *(thank you to Caitlin at Dark Room for sending this EOnline article)* I agree with Serpe that Palin’s PSA highlights a double standard – but who says this double standard doesn’t exist? Isn’t it in fact easier for white, (upper) middle-class teen girls (who have white, well-to-do families that can lend financial support) to care for their children? Palin’s PSA speaks to the opportunities she’s been given – despite occupying the taboo and at times vilified role of teen mom – thanks to her family’s name and her affluent background. Though Palin doesn’t announce her whiteness (out loud anyway, her own whiteness and the whiteness of her child speak volumes in the PSA), or how her whiteness is yet another type of privilege, she does acknowledge that her circumstances as a teen mom are drastically different from other – and I would argue “othered” – teenage moms.

While we can debate what it means that the people behind the PSA gravitated towards a white, upper-class, conventionally pretty face and story – I don’t think we should fault Palin for acknowledging what so many white, well off people fail to do – that is how being white (and being white and wealthy) affords certain privileges in U.S. society . . . again even for a teenage mom. One last thing – I also appreciate that according to Palin (and reported by Huffington Post), “pause before you play” can include everything from waiting until marriage to waiting until your partner grabs proper contraception and then hitting “play.” So kudos to Palin for rethinking her position on abstinence-only education and for recognizing that her life as a teenage mom can’t compare to the lives of most teenage moms. At least she’s being honest.

2. Speaking of sex education, I read an article by Dr. Petra Boynton about the UK’s failure to make sex education uniform and mandatory across the country. Students complained about receiving sex education that only included information on STI’s, infections, and how to not to get pregnant. These same students expressed a desire to learn more about the emotional aspects of sex and issues related to consent. Boynton assesses what this blow to sex education means for UK’s youth, noting:

“So what does this mean? Well, it means that sex education is not going to be compulsory in the near future. Standards of teaching will continue to vary, as will what is taught and how well it is covered. Schools will not be required to teach sex education outside of a biological framework and young people will not recieve adequate information to help them enjoy health relationships. Parents will also be unsupported to deliver sex education, when they were relying on additional help within schools.”

“It does not mean schools won’t teach sex education, just that we cannot guarantee what will be taught and to what standard. Meaning some young people may be okay but others may hear incorrect, outdated, misleading or judgemental information about sex.”

3. From here we jump to an article Peter (from Manvertised) posted. CNN reported on a right-wing District Attorney in Wisconsin who is threatening to arrest teachers in the Junea County if they teach the new sex education curriculum mandated under state law. DA Scott Southworth claims that teachers who instruct students on contraception – and (gasp!) how to properly use contraception options – will be “contributing to the delinquency of a child.” According to CNN the law doesn’t require schools to actually teach sex education, but it does list a strict set of guidelines on what should be taught for schools that wish to include a sex education component to their curriculum. The law narrowly passed in Wisconsin, with no Republican support whatsoever. Schools are currently seeking legal advice on how to proceed in a way that appeases the state mandated law and that protects teachers who wish to continue providing sex education to their students.

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~ by actyourage09 on April 8, 2010.

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