Friday, October 2, 2009

A Teenager's View on Abstinence Only

By Ginny McNulty

Kids returning to school might find their lessons haven’t changed all that much from last year. That includes their school-sponsored sex education classes. Even though last spring President Obama ended federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs -- many of which were proven ineffective in delaying sexual activity – not much has changed yet in Georgia.

During the last school year, I spoke at numerous presentations at my high school to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. I was repeatedly shocked at how little my fellow classmates knew about HIV/AIDS. I was asked on more than one occasion if HIV is transmitted by simple skin to skin contact. Before doing the presentations, I assumed that the students would know the majority of the information I was giving them. I was wrong.

Students repeatedly asked me about the effectiveness of condoms as protection against HIV infection. Unfortunately, I was unable to answer these curious students because school policy prohibited it. My school employed an abstinence-only policy, which extremely hindered me in giving potentially life-saving information to my classmates. On one occasion, one student confronted me during my presentation when I talked about abstinence and not about condoms. It was difficult for me to continue doing presentations after that incident because I whole heartedly agreed with him.

Click here to read the full Op-ed