Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Don't be a (TARGET)

So, I was having a terrific morning. Sitting at the iMac, multigrain flakes before me, last night's episode of Friday Night Lights playing to psych me up for work. Then I get on BART, to find yet another thinly-veiled abstinence poster. It's the usual stuff: "Defend your future...stay away from drinking, drugs, teen sex...only YOU can decide that you matter." The best part? "Don't be a (TARGET)," with a little bullseye. I assume the end of that sentence is "...for Satan's crossbow."

I see this stuff around all the time, and it's definitely part of our national culture now, thanks to Bush, Tommy Thompson, and the Christian right. What bugged me so much this morning, apart from the fact that abstinence-only doesn't work, and that it promotes rampant misinformation, and that it definitely doesn't work unless you at least mention the concept of not having sex, is that I've always been proud of California for being the only state never to take federal funding for abstinence-only education programs. As Planned Parenthood's Mary Jane Wagle wrote in her op-ed to the LA Times a while back, abstinence-only education is like a driver's ed class where the teachers show students scary photos of accidents but never tell them to how to buckle a seatbelt.

But it kind of defeats the purpose if HHS and regressive school districts can take the back door and contract directly with all these unctuously named groups like Teen Esteem and FirstResort. Despite a 2004 California law that mandates comprehensive sex education (including birth control & abortion), the abstinence-only movement is still making gains in places like Fremont, Concord, Mt. Diablo, and Newark (not to mention all over central and southern CA). Hence the poster on BART. It was produced by a non-profit CBO called Await and Find, for which a more appropriate title would be "Await (Three Weeks) and Find (Out if You Got Pregnant)."

On a related topic: did anyone else feel mildly jealous of other teenagers pledging abstinence, like their opportunities for casual sex were so myriad that they had to make a formal, public vow in order to avoid it? When I was sixteen years old I didn't need Teen Esteem to make sure I remained abstinent: I worked on the literary magazine, had a job at the Mall, and played clarinet in a youth orchestra. The whole "not having sex" thing was pretty well taken care of.

That would have been a good slogan for the orchestra, by the way:

"El Camino Youth Symphony: It'll take your kid at least two extra years to get laid."


(Not Joe) Zach said...

See, i would have assumed it meant "don't be a target for someone's penis."

Not a Flaneur, I Just Walk A lot said...

Hey, you know there are a couple albums after Rubber Soul, right?

Anonymous said...

make sure to get in touch with Bay Area Communities for Health Education about this issue...