Kathi Boyle, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, wrote in to the Post-Gazette to underscore the importance of a comprehensive, realistic approach to sex ed.
I agree completely with Stacie Murphy's March 29 Forum piece, “Quit Clowning Around,” regarding sex education for teens. Abstinence is a wonderful goal, but the reality of how most young people experience the world is very different. If we send our young citizens out into the dating world without knowledge, we risk tremendous costs to their future, to the futures of all those who must care for them if they come home with a sexually transmitted disease and/or a pregnancy, and to the health-care system that must try to cure/treat them.
The one thing that always irks me about the right-wing abstinence talks is how girls save themselves for their future husbands “for marriage,” not to save themselves for themselves. They should grow up knowing that their bodies belong to them, not to be bartered in as an offering to the man who will value them for being pure. It is just a ridiculous standard and completely dehumanizing to girls. Save yourselves from STDs, pregnancy and the emotional trauma of becoming sexually active before you are mature enough to do so, but do it for youself — not some faceless suitor. Or your Dad for Christ's sake. Those Purity Balls are just creepy beyond belief.
Anyway, Kathi's letter is practical and reminds how relevant PATF remains in our community. Plus, she puts her money where her pen is.
Of you as a parent would like our agency to meet with you, and/or your teenager, to explain STDs and risk reduction we would be happy to do so. A teen's future can be determined by one mistake. Please make sure your teen is prepared for the grown-up world he or she will sometimes cross into.
Thanks for writing, Kathi.