Winking at You: Elizabeth Talks About Sex
A Tale of Two Sex-Ed Cities
Boy oh boy, do I owe you an apology! It’s been almost two months since I wrote anything worthy of the KC sex scene. I thought I would knock out this little piece about sex education in Kansas and Missouri and head right back to the fun stuff!
Boy, was I wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
It turns out the sex education policies of Kansas and Missouri are as simple as the 9/11 Commission Report. About as penetrable, too.
There is a wide chasm in sex ed policies between Kansas and Missouri, separated by a road filled with potholes and tension
Take Missouri. In the pre- Matt Blunt days, sex ed was run with something like a comprehensive structure. Sex ed started around 5th grade, boys and girls were separated and shown VHS tapes from the ‘80s which focused on menstruation and wet dreams. This was followed with a dose of “health class” where kids learned about reproduction, STDs, and generally crappy things that happen when we have sex.
Did you ever think you’d miss those days?!
A couple of years ago, Mr. Blunt signed a piece of legislation that changed everything. The new points of the plan were 1) abstinence-only education; and 2) prohibiting outside health educators affiliated with abortion providers.
These provisions changed how Missouri school-age children learn about sex. Now, when pressed about the new policies, Mr. Blunt tows the party line of “children should learn about sex in the home,” “no sex before marriage,” “teen pregnancy is a massive tragedy,” etc….
No word from his camp on whether or not they’re still showing the crappy videos.
Many smaller districts have no dineros for an in-house health professional so they bring in an educator. However, one of the largest employers of health/sex educators in the country is Planned Parenthood of Mid-Missouri and Kansas. So, in order to not violate the provision prohibiting outside health educators affiliated with abortion providers, we’re back to the gym teacher scaring the bejeezus out of teens and telling them to wait until marriage.
Since the plan has gone into effect, Missouri has seen an increase in STD rates overall. (I’m just sayin’…) Raise your banner high, Missouri! We now rank in the top ten for gonorrhea! Yeeeha!!!
Kansas has undergone massive changes in sex ed. I spent my formative years in Topeka, and have firsthand knowledge of the crappy-video-boy/girl-separation-in-grade-school-health-class-STD/pregnancy brouhaha. I was fortunate enough to go to a school that did have a health educator on staff, though we made her life as hard as humanly possible. (Sorry about that.)
A few years after I graduated in the late ‘90s (Yes I’m that young and that snarky), Kansas adopted an “opt-in” model for sex ed. This meant your parents had to sign off so you could take heath class at all. If your parents said a big fat “no” for any number of reasons, then you could opt to take another elective.
Last year, Kansas did away with the policy statewide; now, districts decide. As of May last year, Kansas no longer has a state-wide opt-in policy for health class. You can still get out of the sex ed part of the class by opting to sit in the library and work on a separate project. Lord knows I would have. Health class is as dry as day-old toast.
Kansas also does not block outside educators from coming in and talking about sex, regardless of affiliation.
Coincidentally, Kansas doesn’t make the top ten of any STD/STI list.
So there it is: If you’re in a Kansas school, you hear all that evil sex ed stuff (including condoms!), and you may be better for it. In Missouri, you wait until marriage and know that if you do have sex, you’re might end diseased and knocked up. If the statistics hold up, you can then head over the state line (after you’ve taken your Rocephin to clear up the gonorrhea) and learn more.
I would like to pose an idea: When we teach sex ed in either state from a purely procreative/medicinal model (aka sex=babies and disease), we are doing a huge disservice to our future generations. Kids will find out that sex and sexual activity feel good, and want to do things just for the sensory experience. If we only focus on the “facts” and don’t teach them about good touching and bad touching (and just touching in general), then they will follow the feelings. And that can be a really, really bad thing. Nothing is more dangerous than a little information. Trust me. Why do you think that it took me so long to research this article?
A while back, I wrote a piece on my blog, notafraidtoask.com, about the presidential candidates stance on sex ed. If you wanna know from the national level, you can go HERE and check it out.
Elizabeth Rich is a sexologist. No, that's not a pickup line, it's a real degree. She is working on her Ph.d thesis on sexual brain chemistry right now. This very second. She started with a A.A. in Human Sexuality, a B.A. in American Studies, and Graduate Certification in sexology. You can ask her questions at www.notafraidtoask.com or email@example.com.