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Sexual Discourse: Sexplanations

Students say abstinence-only education not an education at all

 by Erika Wurst  published on Thursday, February 17, 2005

<em>Brandon Quester / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE</em><br>Pre-business freshman Taylor Alberstadt says high school is a good time to learn about sex, and that students should be taught more than abstinence-only options./issues/arts/692036
Brandon Quester
Brandon Quester / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
Pre-business freshman Taylor Alberstadt says high school is a good time to learn about sex, and that students should be taught more than abstinence-only options.
 
<em>Brandon Quester / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE</em><br>ASU biology junior Katie MacCormick says having sex-ed classes while attending the University would be beneficial to students./issues/arts/692036
Brandon Quester
Brandon Quester / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
ASU biology junior Katie MacCormick says having sex-ed classes while attending the University would be beneficial to students.
 

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One of the most amusing parts of sex education in high school was watching football coaches blush as they mumbled the words "erection" and "fluids."

Better yet was the distribution of free condoms at the end of class. Whether the students planned on using them wasn't important; the embarrassed snickers were priceless.

But however silly those talks may have seemed at the time, they were always frank and informative.

Now, with the federal government expected to shell out $130 million to support abstinence-only educational programs, straight talk about sex may become a thing of the past, even though a recent study shows those programs don't work.

The study, conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University, showed that in the 29 Texas schools that exclusively taught abstinence, students became more sexually active.

Which caused SPM to wonder: What do ASU students think is the best form of sex education? In this installment of "Sexual discourse," two students talk about their sexual education and what they think of abstinence-only education.

Who: Pre-business freshman Taylor Alberstadt
Found: At the Snow Devils booth outside the Memorial Union

SPM: So, Taylor, tell us about your most memorable sex-ed experiences.

Alberstadt: Oh wow. Freshman year of high school, they showed us the slides. That scared everyone for life. It was right before lunch, too. I went to private school, and they made you watch it. You couldn't put your head on your desk or anything.

SPM: So, did the slides teach you anything important about having sex?

Alberstadt: They just let you know that there's stuff out there that you don't want to get. You just have to be aware. Occasionally, it will cross my mind. I'll be like, "Oh shit. I don't want to end up on one of those slides."

SPM: We feel you on that one. What are your thoughts on abstinence-only education?

Alberstadt: That's what we were taught at school. I don't think they even taught about forms of birth control, and I think you should be exposed to that. For some people, it's good to hear, "Wait 'til marriage." And if you don't want to hear that message, go look for other ones.

SPM: So, does that type of message work?

Alberstadt: To some extent. For people willing to act in that way, it helps their morals and makes them firm on their decision. But for some people who chose not to accept the message, it will have no effect.

SPM: Did it work on you? When did you lose your virginity?

Alberstadt: High school, right before I turned 17. Whoops, I guess it didn't work on me. I didn't see it as a strict guideline. It's against what they'd been teaching me, but who listens to what they're taught all the time?

SPM: What do you think is the best way to teach sex education?

Alberstadt: You definitely need a group setting. You don't feel as uncomfortable, and those interested have no problem talking to a counselor afterwards.

SPM: How do you feel about having sex-ed mandatory for college freshmen?

Alberstadt: I think if you've never been exposed to classes, you should know a little bit. There's so much bad stuff to know about and every piece of knowledge helps. I wouldn't take them though, but an optional class is cool.

Who: Biology junior Katie MacCormick
Where: Another Snow Devil at the booth

SPM: Sex education. What do you remember about it?

MacCormick: Being in fifth grade and learning about the anatomy of our bodies. I don't remember talking about birth control.

SPM: So, did you learn much?

MacCormick: I went to Catholic school, and we were taught that masturbation is bad. It is a sin. One time a student asked the teacher about positions, and the teacher got really uncomfortable.

SPM: What are your views on abstinence-only sex education?

MacCormick: When you come from a private school, you can promote that, but birth control should be brought up. It's a modern world. You can't pretend people aren't having sex.

SPM: In your opinion, does abstinence-only education work?

MacCormick: No, because of peer pressure and social norms. I think I might know two people that are virgins. I think about what I've got out of it [abstinence-only sex-ed] and it's that sex should be something that happens between people who care for each other. That's an important message, and if that's what you get out of it, then it's OK.

SPM: What's your ideal sex-ed program?

MacCormick: It needs to be taught in levels. When you're young, you should learn about anatomy and menstruation. But as you get older, you need to talk about birth control. People just gloss over sex stuff. Most people don't know what's normal and what's not. I think college is a good time to expand on sex in general. I'm a big fan of human sexuality. People are more mature and able to discuss more in-depth topics, like different forms of sexuality and different ways to express it.

Reach the reporter at erika.wurst@asu.edu.



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