By Kate Howard
Class of 2006
This semester, a group of students has worked with Planned Parenthood on a number of projects to spread awareness of reproductive rights issues. You may have taken our survey, or seen us in the COOP passing out condoms for those who signed a petition advocating the passing of the Healthy Teens Act in New York State.
The Healthy Teens Act is a bill that was introduced to establish a grant program through the New York State Department of Health. It would award grants to school districts in New York to allow for age-appropriate and medically accurate sex education. As it stands, New York State does not receive any federal funding for the purpose of comprehensive sex education in schools. Yet in 2003, the state received about seven million dollars in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
This is especially troublesome considering that abstinence-only education is hardly effective in lessening sexual activity or preventing the consequences of high-risk sexual activity. While there is no guarantee that comprehensive sex education programs would increase sexual activity in adolescents, it is likely that not providing information about contraception and disease prevention would result in harmful health ramifications.
Furthermore, withholding medically accurate information in order to promote a political and moral agenda is unethical in and of itself. Do we really want naivet?e to replace knowledge? While the statistics on teen pregnancy and STDs are constantly being thrown around, New York State has yet to establish an education program in its schools to spread medically accurate information about preventing these problems.
To further the efforts to pass the Healthy Teens Act, Planned Parenthood worked alongside other lobbyists at an annual FPA conference held in Albany a couple weeks ago. Colgate students attended this conference and voiced their concerns to New York State legislators about the Healthy Teens Act and a number of other reproductive rights issues.
Over the next year, you may see a campus group pop up that will be dedicated to increasing awareness of such issues. Through these efforts we would hope that the state will begin taking the necessary steps to provide accurate information about sex to its adolescents.
After all, ignorance is bliss…until you get gonorrhea.