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Shhhh! They’ll Get Pregnant

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I’m taking a big risk by writing this. Just by talking about it, teenage girls across the state are probably going to get pregnant.

What’s the big risk? I’ll let the Rocky Mountain News explain:

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School districts that offer sex education will have to cover contraception as well as the benefits of abstinence under a bill approved in the state Senate today. HB 1292 won preliminary approval on a mostly party-line vote. A tallied vote will probably occur Thursday morning.

The measure requires districts to teach a sex education curriculum grounded in scientific research, but leaves specifics up to local school boards.Abstinence will continue to be the main emphasis of sex education programs.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Sue Windels, D-Arvada, brought heated opposition from some Republicans.

Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, said the bill will mean a “comprehensive condom, contraception and copulation” curriculum.

Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, cited lessons that include placing condoms on cucumbers, calling them “disgusting classes.”

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While I appreciate Sen. Mitchell’s clever use of alliteration, I don’t get this argument today any more than I’ve ever understood it. Conservatives have long had this irrational fear that if we talk about something, we are inevitably going to see the manifestation of it. As the argument goes, if we talk to teenagers about contraception, then they are probably going to have sex. Instead, we should just pretend that kids don’t have sex, and that way they won’t. Sure thing. That’s worked really well up to this point.

When people like Sen. Harvey say putting a condom on a cucumber is “disgusting,” they are telling teenagers that using contraception is disgusting, and that’s stupid. I completely agree that young teens shouldn’t be having sex, but why do we have this belief that keeping our mouths shut about contraception is going to have some sort of positive effect that will prevent teen pregnancies?

Here’s what Democratic supporters of the bill have to say instead:

Windels said a stronger curriculum is needed to stem teen pregnancies, which are occurring at a rate of one every hour in Colorado. She said the bill will be an ice-breaker for communities that have difficulty discussing sex.

Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, said students need help in dealing with the pervasive sexual messages in popular culture.

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By teaching teenagers about contraception, we’re absolutely encouraging something…we’re encouraging them to be more responsible. When sex education is limited to telling kids, “Don’t have sex!” it’s not effective. You wouldn’t limit the curriculum in English class to saying, “Don’t misspell words!”

Yes, teenagers get pregnant when they have sex. That’s sort of how it works. But obviously they are going to have sex even if adults tell them not to, so why wouldn’t we teach them to at least be responsible about it? There’s nothing wrong with talking about safe sex, particularly since it’s not like kids aren’t already thinking about it. Do Republicans like Harvey really believe that a sex education class is the first time teenagers are hearing about this Really? So you take a boy and a girl, and you do…what? Wow!

We live in a world where teenagers are going to have sex. Maybe it’s too bad that we live in that world, but it doesn’t change the fact that we do.

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