Thursday, April 8, 2010

Let's Talk About Sex

By Lisa Kaiser
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OK, I didn’t want to write about this but the story is so crazy I have to do it.

As you’ve probably heard, Juneau County DA Scott Southworth has sent a letter to the five school districts in the county warning them about the dangers of teaching comprehensive sex ed to kids.

Dangers meaning that teaching kids about contraception “promotes the sexual assault of children” and “exposes our teachers to possible criminal liability” because they could be seen as contributing to the delinquency of a child.

Southworth is reacting to the recently enacted Healthy Youth Act, which requires schools that teach sex ed to provide medically accurate and age-appropriate information.

Part of those teachings include the proper use of contraceptives.

It also includes the fact that under the new law, teachers would be required to tell their students that sex with a minor is illegal.

I didn’t want to write about Southworth's tantrum because it’s just so damn silly.

Of course I don’t want to promote underage sex, especially underage sex that involves teens who are (or feel they are) coerced into having sex. That’s wrong no matter how you cut it.

But teens are having sex—including teens in Juneau County.

According to Planned Parenthood’s statistics, the teen birth rate in the state is an average of 30.9 per 1,000 teens.

In Juneau County, however, the problem is even worse—35.3 teens give birth per 1,000.

So perhaps the teens in Southworth’s jurisdiction could use some handy info on how to use contraception.

But that’s not all. Teens are far more likely to have an STD than an adult. Again, Planned Parenthood notes that the Chlamydia rate in Wisconsin is 371 per 100,000 people. But the teen rate is astounding—a full 1,806 cases per 100,000 teens (ages 15-19). And the rate of the four most common STDs (Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and genital herpes) increased 53% between 1997 and 2007 among teens.

Clearly, this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Instead, DA Southworth is trying to use scare tactics to prevent teachers from informing students about the risks of unprotected sex.

Why not teach them about those risks early? They’re going to need to use that information someday. I mean, very few couples never use contraception ever. Very few.

Southworth’s attempt to intimidate teachers isn’t in the best interests of Juneau County residents.

(PS: Scott Southworth… hm… why does that name sound so familiar? Wonder if he’s the same Scott Southworth who filed a lawsuit against UW-Madison because some of its segregated fees went to groups that Southworth didn’t like—say, Amnesty International, WISPIRG, Campus Women’s Center, the Ten Percent Society? Hmmm…)



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