Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin and Public School in Utah

I'm not one to get political in discussions usually, I am a very liberal minded independent. Which is a rare find in the state of Utah. And, well, I don't push my views on others. But I do stand behind my own convictions.
Please bear with me as I am going to get just a wee bit political today.
How can I help but get my panties in a bunch, with recent events such as permission slips and politics. How do they relate, you may be asking yourself? Here is how:

A few nights ago, my youngest daughter, came in late at night, as teenagers are known to do, to ask me to sign a permission slip. This is the same permission slip that I sign every year for each of my children. And, as my oldest daughter is aiming for a career in the medical field, many of her classes each, require this same slip to be signed by a parent.
This permission slip is for sexually oriented curriculum. Not sex education, just what the various Utah county school districts deem to be sexual material. I understand the fact that not everyone is going to agree on this issue, I also realize that there are a lot of conservatives in the state I live in who would like to see no curriculum at all.

But let me explain my point of view on this subject.
The consent form has as follows: At the top of the page there are 6 topics, with a small check box next to each of them.

Topics are as follows:
*Reproductive Anatomy ___ *Contraception, including condoms
*Human Reproduction ___ *HIV/AIDS
*Sexually Transmitted Diseases ___ *Information on self-exams

I was ecstatic! I was so glad to hear that they will actually teach more than abstinence in class. Alas it was a short lived excitement, as only a few boxes were checked off to be taught and - contraception was crossed out and replaced with abstinence. Even all important 'self-exams' was not checked off, thus not to be taught. Can someone please explain to me why it is not a good idea to teach this to our teens who are 1-2 years from becoming adults themselves. Even if they were to abstain until marriage- isn't it a good idea to know all the facts about your body and sexuality that you can before that time?

The lower portion of the form goes on with four options for parents.

They can:

1. Grant all permissions for their child to attend the classes for the above mentioned curriculum.(this was my choice)

2. Grant all permissions for their child to attend the classes for the above mentioned curriculum excluding the discussion of contraception or condom use

3. Make arrangements with the school to review the material before they make a decision.

4. Deny permission for said course- with the understanding that the parent will take the responsibility to teach the curriculum to their child within state guidelines.

I love that the parents get options as to what/how our children can/will learn. What I don't like, is, that the options given, are not options, they also are chosen by the state, based on which boxes are checked, and thus not all available to students, even with parental consent.
Contraceptive use, is not checked, not taught.

Sexually transmitted diseases is actually crossed out and re-written as communicative diseases, (Am I undertanding this to mean that, if some 'heathen teen' has it, you know how not to contract it by touching them, rather than thinking that our own child may just BE the one to contract it by having unprotected sex! it can happen)

I am an 'open door' type parent, I have discussed sex, contraception and hormonal tendencies with my kids openly. So whatever the school may teach, my kids may have already learned about it. But, In my opinion, it is always good for kids to learn all there is to know and from more than one source. Education is the key.

I understand that there are those who believe that abstinence is the only answer. That sex before marriage is wrong. I know where they are coming from, abstinence is always the safest choice. But not the probable choice of most teens. For those who will not choose to abstain (case in point Sarah Palin's teenage daughter) education and options need to be available to them prior to them being placed in a posibefore they find themselves in the inevitable situation where they are faced to make a decision. A decision that may change thier whole life. And may or may not make the decisions that we as parents, know to be the better choices. And we can only hope they make the wisest.

I, as a young teen, chose not to abstain. I was not a bad child, I was never in trouble. I helped with chores, got decent grades, had good friends, didn't stay out late, didn't party, use drugs or alcohol, I was in bed pretty early most nights.
But- when I met my now ex-husband, I was only 15. I was stubborn and I was in love.
Love, to a 15 year old is certainly not what love is at 30. And although I knew it was not the best choice- it was still the choice I made. And I had consequences to face for that decision, consequence that may have been avoided had I been a little more educated.

If someone can hold out those emotions until they are married to someone, more power to them. I think that is very noble. It is just not 100% across the board probable, not even close.
The last thing in the world that I would want for my children, would be to follow in my footsteps and become sexually active before they are ready, I was not ready. But my intelligent, beautiful girls, are going to be making some tough decisions in their lives, in the near future. And I as their parent, can only guide them to make the right decisions, and pray that they do. And yet support them if they do not.

I want them to know everything. Curiosity killed the cat they say. I - was a curious teen. I wanted to know what all the hype was about. I- was not educated about sex. So, I learned it by doing it. All my friends were having sex, TV and movies made it sound glamorous, I wanted to know. I am absolutely sure that my girls are exposed to the same pressures as I was, maybe more. We talk all the time. I know which of their friends are sexually active, I know where my kids are at night. (As for my post re: my daughter being out all night, I can only say, I am not perfect. And neither are they)

Right next to Education in my book, is communication. we communicate with others everyday! Co-workers, spouses, the guy at Starbucks making our cup of coffee. Why then, is it so hard to talk to the people we gave birth to? The children we are responsible for. I am going to say- this is yet one more area where the single parent is faced with a few more challenges than your average couple may be.
1. Single parents go it alone. You talk to your kids, because if you don't, who will?.
2. Single parents can't be home all the time- children of single parents are often left alone more often due to work obligations (often, more than one job, or extra hours), dating, spreading time between siblings events, etc.
3. The 'Daddy Complex', this doesn't always apply- but one challenge that I am weary of being faced with is, the daddy complex, with thier father so far away and contact with him being limited to a few phone calls a year, I fear that my girls will go looking for the male subject to fill that void in their life. This has been accentuated by the fact that my son is no longer living at home.
None of us, as parents, want to know that our teens are sexually active,(just ask Sarah Palin) or into drugs, or alcohol, smoking, or any other unsafe or illegal activity.
But the fact of the matter is, like it or not, they will be exposed to these things. Television is full of ads for erectile dysfunction, with promiscuous activity both in and out of marriage, Movies are able to take content to further extent. Keeping it from them is not only not an easy option, but also, in my opinion, not a smart choice. Explanation and education, again is the best focus. As parents, our job, is to educate and communicate. Supporting our children when they don't make the right choices. What an awful thing it would be for a teen, that not only may they have made some wrong choices in their life, but to be left alone to deal with them when parents cant be supportive.

All of this leads me to - As parents, it is up to us, individually, to decide how to teach or not teach our own children and teens. The school classes are only one more tool. One that I should be able to, as a parent, use or not use. All curriculum should be available, as the option of their child attending is ultimately up to us. It is not solely the schools responsibility to educate our children on sexual or other challenges they may face, but it can be a great tool. It is up to us, as parents to use every resource available to ensure that our children know everything there is to know, so that they are not curious enough to find out on their own. Knowledge does not make them sexually active, But lack of it may prevent them from being safe about it.

Just as the D.A.R.E. program educates students about everything there is to know about drug use and its effects, in my opinion it too is an abstinence program. But, teaching abstinence for drug use, doesn't mean that they tell the students 'just don't do it.' Explaning to students, the TYPES of drugs, the EFFECTS of drugs, the ways to avoid PEER PRESSURE of drug use, doesn't make them want to try drugs, but rather more reason to abstain. And the same is true for sexual education.


  1. Hear hear. I totally agree. It shouldn't be the school's position to take away these CHOICES. Let the kids learn and then let them CHOOSE what they're going to do with that information.

    I feel so grateful that my kids started sex education in the 5th grade but your post reminds me that the majority of teens in our country don't come close to getting enough sex ed in schools. And if they do, it's often too little or too late.

  2. Thanks Bitter- It is always good to hear from others, agree or disagree. Education and Communication- cant go wrong with that.


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