Right now, senioritis is gripping students across the nation. From California to Maine, students are exhibiting the signs of a second-semester high school senior, namely, more play and less work. To these teens, this grace period between high school and The Real World is a well-deserved break. They have spent the past four years conjugating verbs and learning algebra. In addition to reading and writing and arithmetic, however, teens are also learning how to become adults, as they gain more responsibility as they age and grow.
Yet, in the Pittsburgh school system, students are graduating without vital skills required of adults. These students, preparing to enter college or the work force, many planning to move away from home, have received no sex ed. They have not even heard the word “condom” mentioned in a classroom.
And these Pittsburgh seniors are not alone. Across the country, students are becoming citizens, turned out into the world shamefully ignorant of how to make safe and smart choices. Instead, these students are treated as children as their sexual and intellectual maturity is ignored.
In Pittsburgh, this idea disturbed a group of fifteen parents and teens who approached their school board, demanding better education. The school board said they would look into it.
More than a year later, they haven’t. Pittsburgh has failed another year of seniors, allowed them to pass through the system unarmed with vital information. The parents of the Pittsburgh school district are tired of waiting.
Terri Klein and Ilene Schwartz, with the support of the ACLU and other programs, have begun circulating an internet petition to parents and concerned community members of Pittsburgh, outlining their complaints with the current abstinence-only program being implemented in their schools.
The textbook for the current program, Totally Awesome Health, not only urges only sexual abstinence as the “right choice,” but doesn’t even define what sexual activity is. Furthermore, it acknowledges only heterosexual, married families. Apparently the curriculum makes up for lack of information by saturating it with prejudice.
The petition has currently collected over 350 signatures and growing, and the issue is getting press coverage from several news sources, a refreshing fact when we consider that often it is the screeching, braying and sensationalist voice of the minority that oppose sex ed that gets heard. The story was even featured on Fox National News this Wednesday morning.
The school board is being forced to pay more attention to the issue, and it comes not a moment too soon. A recent study found that 1 in 4 girls has a STD, a frightening fact that is getting much media coverage.
Hopefully, these numbers will only further galvanize the movement to push abstinence-only until marriage out of schools before Pittsburgh and other school districts fail another graduating class.
It’s either that, or their students will continue to graduate with diseases far worse than Senioritis.
Marshall, Duvall Project