Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Show Me State Decides Not To

Nearly twenty-five years ago, I was the Director of Education for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitian Washington. A major part of our work involved going into the public schools in the D.C. area to supplement the meager sex and health education that the schools were able to offer. We were often asked to do one class on contraceptive methods, but our response was always to ask to do multiple sessions so that we could talk with young people about responsible decision making, abstinence, their changing bodies, and their relationships. Our preference was actually to do teacher training so that the schools could have an ongoing ability to handle these issues themselves.

These memories came back to me when I learned yesterday that the legislature of Missouri has now banned Planned Parenthood staff and volunteers from coming into its public schools. Read the article at http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2007/06/11/sex-ed-bill-demands-abstinence-emphasis/

Now I admit that I don't know any particulars here, but I'm guessing that this bill passed based on ignorance about what Planned Parenthood educators do in the schools. I can imagine that there were speeches that defamed Planned Parenthood's excellent work and claimed that they pushed birth control and abortions on innocent young minds -- or even encouraged young people to have sex.

How do I know that? Because like so many of my sex education colleagues, I have been accused of all of this and worse during my career. A colleague this week in New Jersey wrote her friends about a smear campaign going on about her. I told her that during the worst of these efforts against my work, I reminded myself of all of the giants of the sex education field who had survived other such assaults.

I'm also willing to bet that not one of the legislators who voted for this bill had actually seen a Planned Parenthood education session in the school. Rather, they voted to deny young people needed information.

Some days its hard to love one's enemies.

4 comments:

Brad said...

Thanks so much for writing about our issues, you should have the language of the bill in your inbox shortly. It truly is disgusting. You are correct they have no idea what we really do. But that wasn’t the impetus it was and remains completely about ABORTION.

Rachel Rev said...

Nick Coleman of the Star Tribune (Twin Cities) wrote an excellent article concerning what is happening with sex education in Minnesota: Families that value kids must speak up for sex education.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your comfort and support during this time. It's tough to be portrayed as "evil." The senator from my district attends the same church as I do, and I'm thinking about sending him to your blog. He could do with your insight. (And yes, I have invited him to see what I do, but so far he hasn't taken me up on my offer. Curious, huh?)

Owen Meany said...

Perhaps the schools should have an organization that doesn't provide abortion come in to train teachers and students. Wouldn't that defuse the issue somewhat? There have to be other organizations or individuals in communities that know something about contraception other than Planned Parenthood.