We don't need no thought [sex? behavior?] control
Hey! Teacher! Leave those kids alone!
It's a great couple of weeks, when Pink Floyd's immortal, slightly altered lyrics can close and then open two columns. Last week featured the Bill O' Rights and loony D-11 board members. This week: loony school board members, timid administrators, horny teenagers and the Sex Monster!
As you may have read in the pages of the Independent last week, Planned Parenthood has been kicked out of D-11; no sex for our teenagers -- it's abstinence only! And the board's loony twosome, Messrs. Eric Christen and Craig Cox, seem to be shocked and appalled that some teenagers actually have sex!
After the news appeared, I conducted an informal, highly unscientific and statistically invalid survey. I asked the coffee shop geezers, my co-workers, my barfly pals, and the party-till-the-sun-comes-up friends a single question: When did you lose your virginity? The answers, which cut across age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and economic status, were surprisingly uniform: Almost every respondent fell between 16 and 18. Youngest: 15. Oldest: 20.
Back in the late '50s, when I was a teenager, you knew what would happen if your girlfriend got pregnant -- you'd have to get married. Sex was not publicly discussed; my parents had no idea that I was sexually active, and I had no idea how to prevent pregnancy. Nor did my girlfriends.
We had vague notions of contraception; there was something called "the rhythm method," wherein you only had sex at certain times, but none of us knew exactly when. We all knew about condoms -- then called rubbers -- but how could you get one? You had to go to a drugstore, sidle up to the counter, and ask the clerk, because, as we all knew, they were kept under lock and key. Colorado Springs was a small town, everyone knew everyone else and there was no way that I was going to go to our neighborhood pharmacy and ask for rubbers. So I drove down to South Nevada, to Wreath's Drugstore, and strode confidently in only to see, standing behind the counter, the cute girl who worked with me at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Jean Wreath (why hadn't I realized?). I stumbled and mumbled, bought a pack of gum, and slunk out. No rubbers for me.
One evening, I got two phone calls, one after the other. Ann's period was late; so was Susie's. They were terrified. So was I. What was I going to do? I went to see my best friend, Billy Stone.
Billy was in his Great Mathematician phase and saw my dilemma in purely mathematical terms. "There are four possible outcomes here. Two are bad; two are good. If either one is pregnant, you'll have to marry her -- bad outcome. If neither, you won't -- good outcome. And if both -- good; you can't marry both of 'em!" That was not exactly comforting, but it turned out we dodged the bullet; neither girl was pregnant. Chastened, I drove to Pueblo, found the skankiest pharmacy in town, and bought rubbers.
But at least three of my pals from that era married their pregnant girlfriends in hastily arranged ceremonies. "Jim," then 18, married the 17-year-old bank president's daughter. They had a son, and they split up in their 20s. The son became enormously successful; Jim, in his late 50s, coming out of another divorce, had to start over. And who gave him the money he needed to rebuild his life? His son. My other pals adore their now-grown kids, who, a generation later, might never have been conceived -- or if conceived, would have been aborted.
Conclusions (guaranteed to displease everybody):
1. Teenagers will have sex, whether adults approve or not;
2a. Contraception is good, because it prevents unwanted pregnancies ... no, wait a minute;
2b. Contraception is bad, because you might need a loan from the kid in a few decades.
3a. Sex education is good, because kids, who are going to have sex anyway, use condoms ... no, wait a minute;
3b. Sex education is bad, because kids will have sex and not get pregnant, and they'll miss out on the joys of parenthood.
4. It doesn't matter, because the condoms are right out in the open at the supermarket ... next to the gum.