Saturday, April 28, 2007

Rule Number One: No French-Kissing Till Marriage

Last year I wrote about Operation Keepsake, a local abstinence-based sex-ed program that came to LilProgrammer's school and taught their Health class for a few weeks. This year, LilProgrammer is in 8th grade, and Operation Keepsake is back. As an upstanding, church-going parent, I should be happy as a clam that somebody's telling my kids to remain virgins until marriage. Then why am I so pissed?

Let me see. For one thing, Operation Keepsake does not only reach out to the children of upstanding, church-going parents. It addresses all kids, regardless of theirs and their families' beliefs and convictions. What if the parents don't want their child to abstain until marriage, and their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are not against having sex before marriage? Why should school tell the kids otherwise? Bottom line, if the parents really do want their kids to abstain, they can tell the kids so themselves. No need to shove the message down everyone's throats.

Another thing that bothers me is personal experience. Growing up in the USSR in the 80s, we had some sex ed in school and it sounded a lot like what Operation Keepsake is promoting. The emphasis was on side effects of the Evil Sex - babies, STDs, and (nice addition) Down Syndrome babies - complete with a scary black-and-white video. Apparently, the Down Syndrome babies were what was supposed to happen to you when you had sex while drunk. (There is not information on Down Syndrome babies on Operation Keepsake's web site as of today.) Contraception and condoms as a means of STD prevention were never once mentioned during these classes. Did this sex ed work? You bet your ass it didn't! The fugly late bloomers like myself, that couldn't have had sex in high school, anyway, didn't have it. With anybody else, all bets are off, but, every year, one or two girls, out of a fifty-person graduating class, had to drop out of school because they were pregnant. I haven't heard much, but apparently there were other girls that had abortions and stayed in school. Also worth mentioning is the fact that hooker was a very real and honorable profession in my home town back in those days. I knew a few girls who did it; and, keep in mind, I was hugely unpopular and knew very little about what was going on, so what I'm telling you was probably the tip of the iceberg. All right, the Soviet educators twenty-five years ago didn't know any better, but why would anyone want to repeat their mistakes in the US, today? This puzzles me.

There is, however, a big difference between life in the USSR when I was a kid and the life here, now. Back in my day, you were a spinster if you weren't married by 25. After your 20th birthday, well-meaning relatives would start trying to hook you up with their friends' sons, because all your friends were already married and you were past your prime. In these circumstances, waiting till marriage is at least feasible. What about here, today? Does any sane American middle-class parent really want their children married at 18? From what I can see, the average age is more like thirty. Who the heck can wait that long, and what's the point? And what about people who end up never marrying? What are they supposed to be waiting for?

Last but not least. I need to know whether Operation Keepsake provides their services to schools free of charge. And if not, then, well, I'll be really mad. Why are my property taxes paying for this ridiculous thing that is the opposite of education? Does the school have that much extra money on its hands?

The web site of this fine organization is here. You will learn about abstaining in college, the evils of grind-dancing ("Honestly, how big is the step from dancing provocatively on the dance floor, to going too far physically after the dance?"), dating rules ("Avoid French kissing—to remain in control of your hormones"), how to keep your BF/GF's mind off sex ("Suggest some fun things you can do together, like going to a movie or eating pizza"), and other equally valuable things. What you will not learn about is birth control and STD prevention - they are not mentioned on the site or in the organization's Represent magazine, except to state that "condoms only have a 50% prevention rate". If you have your speakers on, beware that, each time you go back to the "Articles" page, you will be exposed to an Incredibly Lame Rap.

Enjoy. Abstain. Mr. Goldie and I didn't. And, in retrospect, it doesn't seem like that awful big of a deal.

The Goldie has spoken at 9:39 PM

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