To the next President

I’m really not back on my feet again from the events in Tennessee on Sunday.  So today I am merely pointing you towards a great blog post: Violet Blue wrote a great piece yesterday on RH Reality Check to the next president on how to completely re-vamp sexuality education in America.  Here’s her down-and-dirty what-to-do for the next president:

  1. Kill the abstinence programs. Period. Think of them as creationism in schools: optional to include in curricula but privately funded only. Fire the f- out of anyone with a religious agenda in a position of power in relation to public health. We are a nation of many faiths – most of which are not being served with this nonsense.
  2. My best friend’s daughter is 5, and brags that she has a boyfriend. Craft programs that are age appropriate so kids understand what they’re doing every step of the way. Take a cue from England, where the Sex and Relationship Education program centers on “All About Us: Living and Growing” videos for 5-7-year-olds, 7-9-year-olds and 9-11-year-olds, with workbooks about healthy sexual relationships for kids (and adults) with learning disabilities.
  3. Require all sex ed programs to include practical information about reproduction (including a woman’s right to choose and male responsibilities of parenthood), contraception, STDs and STIs, sexual pleasure, masturbation, consent, homosexuality, sexual tolerance, and gender identity. Kids are dealing with all this stuff; adults need to stop lying to themselves and have honest discourse with kids about it.
  4. Set aside federal funding for a teen sex ed counselor to be on school staff at all times, exclusively for hotline-style accurate sex information, and completely confidential. Our kids’ health and futures depend on it. Require that they are tech- and Internet-savvy.
  5. Create a task force to research and implement outreach programs that visit schools for presentations on relevant and current sexual issues. This could include the Gardasil vaccination (HPV shot), presentations on transgender issues, workshops on sexual consent, rape prevention and self-defense for girls, age-appropriate sex ed books, religious faith and sexuality, and sexual questions around – yes – political scandals

The entire post is really worth your time.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. “(including a woman’s right to choose and male responsibilities of parenthood)”

    Is there some reason all non-STI risk in sexual relationships ought to be borne by the male?

  2. Bob, I’m not sure why you understood Violet Blue to be saying that only men should attend to pregnancy risks. Rather, I think she was pointing out that it is a consideration that both men and women should attend to, rather than just women.

  3. Well, it would seem to me like you want women to be able to choose whether or not to take on the responsibility of being a mother. Why are boys just “stuck” with that responsibility? Where is the male “right to choose”?

    As a parent, certainly you know that this responsibility is enormous, so please don’t make light of it.

  4. First: If a man does not want to be a father, he has the complete ability to stop pregnancy from happening. That’s where a man’s right to say “No” to fatherhood stands. Young men need to be taught that they have an absolute right to say no any sexual activity that might lead to pregnancy. Indeed, if they are absolutely against fatherhood at a given time, it is their responsibility to be sure that a pregnancy does not occur from their sexual activities.

    If an accidental pregnancy occurs, well, then it’s the woman who makes the choice about whether to carry the pregnancy to term. Sometimes it might suck for men who want to be the one to make the decision. Sometimes it sucks for women who don’t want to be the one making the decision. But it’s still the woman’s body, and it’s still a decision she has to make.

    I don’t take the responsibility of being a parent lightly in any way, but having children myself has nothing to do with it. There are plenty of people – teenagers and adults alike – who do not have children and absolutely understand that becoming a parent is an enormous responsibility that will drastically change their lives.

  5. “First: If a man does not want to be a father, he has the complete ability to stop pregnancy from happening. ”

    You are the last person on earth I thought I’d ever see promoting abstinence-only dogma! I guess it’s OK with you as long as it only applies to men.

    Women have that exact same complete ability to stop pregnancy from happening. Why do women need the right to “choose”, then?

    Men really get the shaft in this world.

  6. Gosh, Bob, I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware I was promoting abstinence-only dogma. I thought I was promoting choice.

    Why is it that as soon as “choice” comes in, some liberals think it means “required”? I promote reproductive choice – that is, the choice to use birth control AND the choice to try and get pregnant, the choice to access an abortion if necessary AND the choice to carry an unexpected pregnancy to term. In regards to sexuality, the decision to refrain from penile-vaginal sexual intercourse is one that is worth having a conversation about. It is a choice, and it is one that is just as worthy of respect as the choice to use consistent, effective birth control.

    Just because the abstinence-only, conservative agenda restricts the choices of young people to one (abstinence, and then having as many babies as possible) doesn’t mean that I am restricted to recommending the exact opposite.

  7. I see you promote choice, so long as it’s only women who have a choice.

    If a man wants a choice regarding if/when he becomes a father, he’s got to remain abstinent-only.

    I see the war against males is already decided. We lost big time.

  8. Bob, we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

  9. “If a man wants a choice regarding if/when he becomes a father, he’s got to remain abstinent-only.”

    Or, I don’t know, maybe wear a condom? Or talk with your partner to make sure that as a couple you are using reliable birth control? Or if you are done having kids (or don’t want any) getting a vasectomy? Seems there are a bunch of choices besides abstinence.

    And as to abortion – since it’s not a man’s body, why should it be man’s choice? Ideally, yes, a woman would talk to her partner and take his views into account. But it’s not going to be the man either carrying the baby to term, or climbing up on the table, so ultimately, no, it’s not his choice.

    Well, at least it shouldn’t be. Actually, in a great deal of the world, abortion IS decided by the man. More specifically the men who make the laws. So in Egypt and El Salvador, and many other countries to varying degrees, including much of the US, the men do decide, and have decided that all pregnancies will be carried to term, regardless of the health of the woman, the viability of the fetus, or the circumstances of the conception.

  10. Bob, I am not sure if you are still reading this, or if you are interested in discussion counter to your flexible opinion (there are too many people who aren’t in this world), but I think that this whole debacle was started over …a misinterpretation.

    “(Including a woman’s right to choose and male responsibilities of parenthood),”

    It may initially seem, to some readers, to represent the stance “In the event of a birth, women may choose to shirk the responsibility of parenthood, but men are required to take that responsibility regardless.”
    But as I see it, the intended meaning seems to say more that “In the event of a pregnancy, women may choose to carry the pregnancy to term or abort as per her choice. If a woman carries with the intent to raise the child, the male involved has a certain share of the responsibility of the parenthood of the child.”

    In essence, two entirely separate issues summed together as a pair of related issues that are not proportionally represented in the current human-education curriculum.

    “Is there some reason all non-STI risk in sexual relationships ought to be borne by the male?”

    I rather disagree with this because it seems lacking in scope. Examples of Non-STI risks in sexual relationships, specifically those relating to pregnancy: physical risks, such as the vast possible array of medical complications, miscarriages, being unable to avoid a dangerous situation (something falling? an attack?); the mental strain of having such a large decision come suddenly, signifigant with either great or little preparation; the social and emotional risks involved with such things as disapproving family or community members, being disowned from families, having derisive comments jeered, pushing to the breaking point.

    I think there are plenty of non-STI risks of sexual relationships that not only are not limited to the male, but exclusive to the female side.

    “If a man wants a choice regarding if/when he becomes a father, he’s got to remain abstinent-only”

    Certainly, there’s always that possibility that despite all precautions (HBC, condoms, etc.), sperm manages to reach and fertilize an ovulated egg during a woman’s fertile period, and that egg manages to implant and begin to grow.

    Of course, though possible, this isn’t statistically likely, and the chances are directly affectable by the actions of the two partners in question. Discuss, identify factors, and minimize to the greatest effect the risk of pregnancy. Discuss what to do if the minimized risk occurs even through all attempts. Communication is key.

    There’s also the option to forego the ‘centerpiece’ act, as there is a vast repitoire of non-intercourse sexual activities to share those feelings and emotions. Only considering one single act to be the epitome of shared sexual pleasure…. To me, it just seems like admiring the gilded candelabra in the middle of the table, and not seeing all of the fine silverware on a luxurious and hand-woven tablecloth, set with masterfully-crafted wine glasses about the finest chinaware plates. It may be the most impressive thing in sight, but it’s certainly not the -only- impressive thing at the table.

    I am sorry you feel that “the war against males” is already a solid loss for ‘your compatriots.’ I might dredge up a 4000+ year history implying the direct opposite–that includes much of today–but I’ve addressed the main points I wanted to make.

    I am sorry for baring my fangs on your site, Dr. Rayne.
    It was not my intention to…drift from the initial tone so far.

  11. Thank you for your thought-out, point-by-point response, Lilian. I welcome all perspectives and disagreements, so long as everyone is respectful in tone, which you certainly were.

  12. Lilian,

    I want to say thank you for your lovely metaphor. The image of the beautifully set table with fabulous linen and silverware, waterford crystal and china plates – all illuminated by the beautiful candelabra – is just great. All the rest would still be wonderful without the candelabra. The candelabra is wonderful and does not need all the credit.

    I will hold that image and enjoy it – thanks for sharing!

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