Signal boosting: The damage of abstinence-only sex “ed”

Larisa Manescu writes about her experiences of being raised on Texas’ sex non-education curriculum:

My freshman year of high school, an abstinence speaker compared my virginity to a fragile, delicate thing, like a gift wrapped in paper. There was still hope, he said, if I had already unwrapped my present; I could always re-wrap it by giving up sex entirely. But if I didn’t, I’d probably end up with genital warts. (All roads lead to genital warts in abstinence-only programs. Somewhere buried deep in the minds of most students who grew up in these programs is a repressed memory of passing around a face-down photograph around a giggling classroom, with the occasional gasp as someone dared to flip the photograph to reveal “diseased” genitalia.)

We didn’t get many details about how, exactly, STIs were transmitted or pregnancy came about, but there was plenty of pressure to remain untouched, or else.

When I missed my period at 16, I jumped to the conclusion that maybe, somehow, my then-boyfriend’s semen was magic and could survive exposure to air. Little flying warriors, those sperm! I remember coming home from school to discover that my mother had seen my panicked online messages and was waiting for me with a pregnancy test. I remember the shameful feeling of peeing with the door open, fumbling for an explanation, trying to say it wasn’t possible…I don’t think? My poor mom must have thought I was either a liar or a fool.

Of course, the test was negative.

Read more about it here.



  1. says

    Thankfully German courts decided long ago that all kids get science based sex ed.
    It still means that some kids simply don’t listen and I think that consent education could be much better, but at least nobody tells girls that shit.

  2. says

    It’s weird how much christians claim to be concerned about the mother’s health, then try to keep young women ignorant about reproductive health. And by “weird” I mean “entirely predictable hypocrisy.”

  3. says

    I firmly believe that proper Sex and Relationships education is such a necessary part of abolishing the sexist, homophobic and transphobic ideas that have become embedded in popular culture, that parents or guardians do not have the right to deny it to children.

    The right to choose is a fine thing, but sometimes choice is properly restricted. Imagine the chaos if everyone was completely free to choose where they drove their and parked their cars! We prefer the benefits brought when everyone follows the rules of the road.

    It is also the very children whose parents would wish to withdraw them from such classes, who stand to benefit the most from them.