I knew this day was coming. And, still, I was unprepared. My 12 year old hopped into the car after school, unceremoniously dropping two booklets into my lap. “Here, these are for you.” The family on the green and yellow cover stared out at me, smiling. Albeit, in a creepy Stepford Wives kind of way, but happy nonetheless. I searched for the title and suddenly there it was. I read the words two or three times. The family still stared back. Though now they seemed to be taunting me as I read the title one last time; “Human Reproduction.”
Crap. Time to lock her in a tower.
Flipping through the books brought a modicum of relief. I’ve been a practicing Catholic for a quarter of a century. But, I was a public school kid. I vaguely recall my sex education class, though I remember my physician mother coming in and talking. It was most certainly clinical, dry, and absolutely boring. (Not to mention seriously embarrassing! Sorry, Mom). And, by 1990, it would have made no mention of God. That’s not what I wanted for my own children.
The pages of the booklet in front of me were filled with life-affirming lessons, as I expected from a Catholic school. Reproductive organs are described in detail, using appropriate names, but always with the explanation that they are part of God’s plan.
“The two purposes of sexual intercourse must both be present at all times in order for intercourse to remain holy and within the bounds of what God intends for it. The married couple use intercourse to express love, but they also must remain open to the possibility of conceiving new life and bringing a child into the world.” It goes on to explain the physical act of sex, all while reminding the reader that the very act could enable “new life to begin.”
Either by coincidence or the grace of God, I ran across a news story out of Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Public School board voted this evening to set up a “memo of understanding” with Planned Parenthood, enabling them to come in and teach sex education to middle school children in the district. I somehow doubt the purposes of sex to Planned Parenthood mirror those of the Catholic Church.
I can see why Planned Parenthood would want to blast abstinence-only sex education classes. Aside from being bad for business it’s, well, bad for future business. “Catholics believe that God creates the soul of the individual and joins it with the body at the moment of conception.” It would be incredibly difficult to abandon that belief if one were contemplating an abortion.
I wonder if the board in Pittsburgh consulted administrators at Lafayette, California’s Acalanes High School. Parents there were horrified to learn that local Planned Parenthood staffers were running the sex education classes there. According to a Fox News article from December:
Included in the materials provided to students were documents and worksheets that included a checklist entitled, “Sex Check! Are You Ready For Sex?” in which the 13 and 14-year-old students are asked questions such as if they have water–based lubricants and condoms and if they could handle a possible infection or pregnancy. Another worksheet reads like a how-to on obtaining consent from a possible sexual partner and offers possible statements like “Do you want to go back to my place?” and “Is it OK if I take my pants off?”
I can almost give them a pass on condoms. After all, it’s a purely secular program. They are obligated to teach methods intended to promote safe sex. “Do you want to go back to my place,” when asked by a thirteen year old, though? What place would that be? A treehouse? Back yard fort? And where exactly do 7th and 8th graders ask these questions? The local skating rink or park? Gym class?
I’m acutely aware of the statistics. As many as 19% of middle school students have engaged in sexual activity. (That number increases to 46% by high school). Where and when they’re having sex is where I get a little lost. Do these kids have parents? Thirteen year olds can’t drive. And they sure as heck shouldn’t be dating. Am I to believe that nearly 20% of these kids are sneaking away, unnoticed to play with fire? Could the problem be as simple as uninvolved and inattentive parents?
Reading through both booklets, I found myself far less worried. We’ve already covered most of the material as a family. I’m a Catholic but I’m also a practical, cynical human being. I know that my children, much like their mother, will make mistakes. It’s my job to equip them with the knowledge they need to make good choices. I’m finding it’s entirely possible to expose them to a comprehensive sex education program that incorporates their faith. It won’t work unless I’m fully involved in the process, though. It’s not a task left just to teachers and certainly not to abortion mills like Planned Parenthood. My children will not become statistics.
Besides, the builders come next week to install the tower.
Image: http://sexual-communication.wikispaces.com/Abstinence+Only+Education?response Token=42857e5871fd3344d5140b638b83d746