Cliff Gardner

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sex Ed, Peace Corps Style

During the three months of pre-service training in Ukraine, my training cluster had several visits from the medical office to give us inoculations, supplies and some general health lessons, the most memorable of which was the sexual health lecture. Lasting several hours, it was as explicit and comprehensive a sexual education class as you can imagine, complete with a mandatory rolling of a condom on a rubber penis that we all had to do before we could be officially sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers. The intensity and frankness of this lesson (and the subsequent availability of an unlimited supply of condoms and birth control pills) felt almost a little desperate, leaving us all with the notion that we were important people and our choices actually mattered. After all, the government was investing a lot of time and money in us so we could do a specific and important series of jobs, so this attitude made sense. We were valuable resources and the Peace Corps had a vested interest in protecting us, even from ourselves.

That lesson stuck with me, and I imagine that it had a similar impact on other PCV's because, despite having a very large number of (sexually active) volunteers, the PC-Ukraine program had/has almost no one leave the service for sexually-related issues (STI's, pregnancy, etc). My point is this, though: why on earth shouldn't the same sense of desperation and intensity be applied to every single high school sexual education class in America? The conditions are similar, after all--lots of time/money being invested in the students (tens of thousands), the risks are tremendous since so many are inevitably sexually active anyway, and the correlation between comprehensive sex ed and lower pregnancy and STI rates is clear. It's like we were only worthy of receiving complete and accurate sexual education (and the needed birth control to functionally follow through on those teachings) because we were important Peace Corps Volunteers, which is just silly--every teen in America is just as important and deserves that same treatment.


Post a Comment

<< Home