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Another Terrible School Assembly

More and more schools seem to be bringing in speakers to do assemblies who are controversial, to say the least, especially Christian right types that give the full wingnut presentation on abstinence, abortion and sexual freedom. The latest is a school in Nashville, which brought in speakers from a religious right group called Decisions, Choices and Options to do a mandatory assembly full of inaccuracies and cheap scare tactics.

Having sex with eight partners would be the equivalent of drinking a whole classroom’s spit, so the presentation goes. There’s a new sexually transmitted disease out there that will become the new AIDS. All medical textbooks say life begins at conception.

For an hour, Joi Wasill, the founder of nonprofit Decisions, Choices and Options, and Sumner County School Board member Beth Cox provided a captive audience their take on STDs, abortion and adoption. It wasn’t completely accurate, a Vanderbilt University doctor said…

On the recording, Cox takes the first half. One out of four people who start having sex at the students’ age will get an STD, she says.

“Ladies, that’s especially important for you, because many of those STDs will leave you infertile,” she says. “You can no longer have children later on in life.”

Condoms break, she said. Birth control pills aren’t 100 percent effective — she has a friend who became pregnant three times while taking them.

They gave out information on a local “crisis pregnancy center” where they would hear religious arguments to talk them out of an abortion. Basically, it was the entire anti-sex, anti-choice screed. And it’s not a good idea:

The presentation isn’t helpful, said Dr. Mary Romano, assistant professor in Vanderbilt’s Division of Adolescent Medicine. Its biggest problem is that it uses scare tactics. That never works with teens, whose developing brains too rarely allow reason to outweigh pleasure or believe anything bad will happen to them, she said.

Other than that, the presentation relies on facts taken out of context. STDs make you sterile if they’re not treated. Drinking spit and having sex introduce you to different kinds of diseases. Most medical textbooks never broach the idea of when life begins, because that’s based on people’s opinions, Romano said.

What gets through to teens are factual messages, in context, delivered consistently and over time and echoed by parents.

“What you want to do is have the teen walk away with knowledge and skills. Teach me skills to negotiate that situation. If I’m going to have sex, who do I go to for information?” Romano said.

A school board member admits there’s a problem here, but doesn’t seem to care:

Metro Nashville School Board member Michael Hayes, whose district includes Hillsboro, wrote in an email he was surprised by excerpts of the presentation.

“Fortunately, I believe the Hillsboro High School kids are smart enough to separate fact from fiction and that some of the opinions and scare tactics used in the presentation they will know are incorrect,” he wrote, but he would need to know more to comment further.

Seriously? That’s his argument? If kids are smart enough to separate fact from fiction in such presentations, why bother to have them at all? This is a serious problem and it’s happening all over the place. For crying out loud, some schools are bringing in Bradlee Dean, who thinks gay people should be killed.

Comments

  1. steve oberski says

    I wonder if they “discussed” the fact that alumni of abstinence only sexual education programs have higher rates of teen pregnancies and STDs ?

    I mean, teach the controversy, right ?

  2. says

    Most medical textbooks never broach the idea of when life begins, because that’s based on people’s opinions, Romano said.

    I always thought this entire question was phrased badly. Of course an embryo is a form of life. So is sperm. So is an unfertlized egg. So is bacteria. The question isn’t when life begins. It’s all one continuous chain of life. The real question is, when does it become a self-aware entity with rights equal to that of another human being?

  3. matty1 says

    For an hour, Joi Wasill, the founder of nonprofit Decisions, Choices and Options, and Sumner County School Board member Beth Cox provided a captive audience their take on STDs, abortion and adoption. It wasn’t completely accurate, a Vanderbilt University doctor said…

    Is that not completely accurate in the same sense that the Mariana trench is not completely dry?

  4. Who Knows? says

    I believe the Hillsboro High School kids are smart enough to separate fact from fiction and that some of the opinions and scare tactics used in the presentation they will know are incorrect

    A member of the school board stating that teaching falsehoods is fine? Because the children who have been raised to trust what their teachers and schools teach will recognize the falsehoods?

    Someone needs to be kicked off the school board.

  5. eric says

    a religious right group called Decisions, Choices and Options

    Way to take the high road, Christian group. Start your deception with the title!

  6. raven says

    I believe the Hillsboro High School kids are smart enough to separate fact from fiction and that some of the opinions and scare tactics used in the presentation they will know are incorrect.

    Sounds like they are just putting lipstick on the pig.

    It’s Nashville, Tennessee.

    They are probably vastly outnumbered.

    Tennessee Adolescent Reproductive Health Facts – The Office of …
    ww.hhs .gov › Adolescent Health Topics › Reproductive Health › States‎

    RH1 On a similar scale – where 1 is the highest teen pregnancy rate and 51 is the lowest – Tennessee was ranked 11 out of 51 states and the District of …

    Tennessee, like all the south has high rates of teenage pregnancy and STD’s.

  7. slc1 says

    Re d. c. wilson @ #2

    Of course, the claim that life begins at conception is nonsensical to start with. Given that more then 1/2 of all fertilized egg fail to implant, that would make god the greatest abortionist in the world.

  8. outraged says

    Why don’t the athiests start a non profit with some name like Better Choices for a Better Life and go into those same schools talking about a rational approach to life. Question authority, think for yourself, organized religion is a scam. I’d love to see the reaction to that.

  9. matty1 says

    Life began about 3.5 billion years ago and has been continuous ever since I’m with 2 the relevant question is when should human rights begin.

  10. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Drinking spit and having sex introduce you to different kinds of diseases.

    Yeah? Okay who the fuck drinks spit on a regular basis – couldn’t see any in gallons or litres at the supermarket last time I looked!

    How many diseases are contracted by drinking saliva again and where?

  11. zenlike says

    Yeah? Okay who the fuck drinks spit on a regular basis

    French kissing? The amount you accidentally swallow (‘drink’) isn’t that big, but enough to get infected by some deceases.

    How many diseases are contracted by drinking saliva again and where?

    Ever heard of mono? Also called ‘kissing decease’? And that’s only one of a plethora of nice stuff you can contract via oral contact (via the fluids in your mouth, or ‘spit’).

  12. raven says

    Drinking spit and having sex introduce you to different kinds of diseases.

    The oogedy boogedies are comparing drinking spit to having sex.

    That is going to go over really well with anyone with a normal personality and a mental age over 8 years old.

  13. frog says

    Who drinks spit on a regular basis? Any of us who kiss someone on the lips or share beverages. Or eats food cooked by someone who tastes the gravy and then puts the spoon back in the pot (guilty as charged). Anyone who has a pet that licks their face. Anyone who talks to people who enunciate sharply.

    I am so tired of people being wigged out about germs. Yes, washing your hands is a very good idea, particularly in hospitals. Don’t touch your face with your dirty hands, if you want to minimize colds and flu. Condoms are a useful barrier against many forms of STD and should be used if you have any reason to believe your partner might be carrying something. These are all excellent ideas, and people should follow them.

    But the world is FULL OF GERMS and every one of us does things that expose us to them ALL THE TIME. Getting prissy about it is just pointless. If you’re afraid of getting sick from other people’s bodily fluids, you need to stop interacting with other people face-to-face. People, man, they’re everywhere, and they ooze all kinds of stuff.

  14. says

    Metro Nashville School Board member Michael Hayes, whose district includes Hillsboro, wrote in an email he was surprised by excerpts of the presentation.
    “Fortunately, I believe the Hillsboro High School kids are smart enough to separate fact from fiction and that some of the opinions and scare tactics used in the presentation they will know are incorrect,” he wrote, but he would need to know more to comment further.

    This is the same defense that has been used for teaching creationism in school– it’s okay to lie to students, because I have a higher opinion of them than you do! I think they’re smart enough to know that we’re lying to them!

    ……

    1. Isn’t it still wrong to lie to people who are smart enough to figure out that you’re lying?
    2. Isn’t lying the opposite of teaching?
    3. If you’re going to present falsehoods to students, shouldn’t it be as part of a true/false test?
    4. Doesn’t teaching normally come before testing?
    5. See number #2?

  15. says

    Who drinks spit on a regular basis? Any of us who kiss someone on the lips or share beverages. Or eats food cooked by someone who tastes the gravy and then puts the spoon back in the pot (guilty as charged). Anyone who has a pet that licks their face. Anyone who talks to people who enunciate sharply.

    Nope. None of those people drink spit, using an accurate definition of the word “drink.”

    There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to have other people’s spit in your mouth against your will.
    There’s even less wrong with being grossed out by the thought of drinking it.
    The point, as raven says, is not about germs at all. It’s just about trying to make people feel gross about one thing by associating it with something else they find gross already.

    A better analogy– as in, a more accurate one– would have been to compare having sex with eight people to kissing eight people, but it wouldn’t have grossed anyone out.

    It would be nice if the thought of sex with eight people didn’t gross anyone out either, because it leads to slut-shaming, but to my knowledge being grossed out at the thought of drinking spit doesn’t lead to anything horrible and so doesn’t matter.

  16. kermit. says

    So… having sex with a member of the religious right is like drinking spit?
    .

  17. Stacy says

    a religious right group called Decisions, Choices and Options

    I hear the Organization to Stamp Out, Abolish, and Abrogate Redundancy wants to have a word with them.

  18. says

    Frog: ” Condoms are a useful barrier against many forms of STD and should be used if you have any reason to believe your partner might be carrying something.”
    Why would anyone have sex with someone who they think Is carrying a disease?
    When I was teaching AIDS prevention we always said one should always assume that their sex partner, unless you both have been monogamous for a number of years, is carrying HIV or other diseases and assume that they themselves are carrying diseases. That way both of them are protected. You can never tell by appearances who might or might not be infected.

  19. says

    Why would anyone have sex with someone who they think Is carrying a disease?

    Umm, because odds are decent that they are?

    And maybe because you want to?

    When I was teaching AIDS prevention we always said one should always assume that their sex partner, unless you both have been monogamous for a number of years, is carrying HIV or other diseases and assume that they themselves are carrying diseases.

    Looks like you answered your own question. A bit maniacally excessively, but still.

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