The birds and the bees – and plan b

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As the substitute health teacher finished the presentation on pregnancy, I raised my hand and asked the question that had been bubbling up inside me for days, “What about abortion?”

She took a few moments to respond. I didn’t blame her, I understood that it was a difficult question, but it was one I wanted the answer to.

Her response was one along the lines of “We don’t talk about that”. This answer confused me. For the past week my gym class had learned how to have safe sex and about a variety of contraceptives – birth control pills, male and female condoms, IUDs, among others. Abstinence was encouraged, but the curriculum suggested that the school district knew that teenagers were going to have sex and wanted them to know the resources available to them.

So why wasn’t abortion mentioned? Why were the health teachers only teaching their students about a select group of contraceptives?

It didn’t make sense to me. I wondered why a high school in a state who voted consistently for Democratic candidates – in the year 2015 – was completing ignoring the existence of this contraceptive.

Almost a year after initially asking this question, I asked it again, this time, determined to get an answer.

I began by emailing the teacher whom I had first posed the question to, Jessica Arnold. I asked her why the list of contraceptives taught in the reproductive health unit did not include abortion. She replied stating that she herself did not know, but I could contact Brenda Vogds.

I emailed Vogds, the Secondary Teaching and Learning Supervisor of District 112, asking if she knew the answer to my question.

She responded stating that the current curriculum taught was written by the former Secondary Coordinator, along with a team of Personal Wellness teachers. Although she does not know why they did or didn’t include topics in the curriculum, she does know that they align with national standards.

According to a March 2016 report by Guttmacher Institute, 18 states and the District of Columbia require information of at least one contraceptive be provided. This requirement does not exist in Minnesota, but if it did, CNHS would easily meet it.

While I believe that the current curriculum of sex education in District 112 is highly informative and beneficial, it could be improved.

By teaching students only about a select group of contraceptives the district is missing out on the opportunity to inform students about a resource they may need to use one day.

Getting an abortion is a reality for some teenagers. Whether it’s an in-clinic abortion or the use of an abortion pill, some teens who become pregnant may choose to terminate their pregnancy. According to Choices Pregnancy Care Center, 35% of teenage women who become pregnant opt to have an abortion.

I do not think that abortion should be encouraged. I simply think that information on this contraceptive should be provided to students in the same way as IUDs or birth control pills would be. That students should know about all of the resources that are available to them, not just a select few.

And this change is possible. While searching for the answer to my question Vogds discovered that transgender and homosexuality are not included in the 11th grade Personal Wellness curriculum prompting her to write at the end of her email “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will be bringing the PW Curriculum Team back in for an analysis of what is currently taught verses gaps in the content.”

I hope during this analysis the Team sees the gap that I do and fills it with enlightening discussions on topics that students deserve to be informed of.  


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