What it’s like on the front lines
Mary Collier’s column last Saturday, “Use character, not condoms,” is a blanket criticism of sex education programs. As far as I can tell from her column, Ms. Collier knows nothing about what must happen before anything can be put in place or changed in a sex-ed program. As an eighth-grade science teacher at Lyman Gilmore Middle School, I have attended conferences; reported to and gotten feedback from the school board and administrators; spoken at Parent Night prior to the beginning of the Family Life program; invited speakers from the community to talk to my students; and worked closely with the school nurse to provide updated, accurate information.
In my classroom, I have sexually active students sitting next to pre-pubescent students; I don’t necessarily know which is which. For the past seven years I have taught them facts about their reproductive systems, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and yes, birth control. My classroom motto is “Knowledge is power.” The more they know, the better prepared they will be to make important decisions about their futures.
I do not take my role lightly. Ms. Collier’s tongue-in-cheek attitude is offensive. She has never been in my classroom and has never heard what I say or how I say it. She never mentions the male’s role in birth control (the fathers of most teen pregnancies are legally adult males). I suggest she attend Parent Night and then come to my class. The entire program lasts about four weeks and includes homework discussion questions for the students to complete with their parents, informational videos, worksheets, reading from the textbook, taking notes, role playing and lots of discussion. I would also like her to read the students’ evaluations of the program and see the final exam.
It would never occur to me to criticize the Friendship Club, of which Ms. Collier is the executive director, because I know very little about it. Why does she feel qualified to criticize sex education programs? I am always open to suggestions on how to improve the program. If Ms. Collier has any, I’d be more than willing to hear them.
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