Last week I wrote about born-again virgins and the Silver Ring Thing. One of the reasons I said I disliked this program was that it suggested to teenagers that vaginal intercourse is some Ultimate Act, and that it is really the only act that need be promised against.

Now, as a disclaimer, I suspect that the creators of the Silver Ring Thing never meant to encourage teenagers to have oral sex. I suspect it never even entered their minds that the teenagers who decided to be “abstinent” through their program would think it was still okay to have anal sex. But it probably should have.

A boyfriend I had in high school, before the Silver Ring Thing came to Austin, said to me, “No, no, I won’t have sex until I’m married. I’m Catholic. Want to go make out in the shower?”

So by the time the Silver Ring Thing came along, there was already precedent for teenagers mistaking virginity as abstaining exclusively from penile-vaginal intercourse. Nevertheless, they continued (and continue) to promote virginity without a nuanced discussion of sexuality. This continues the focus on penile-vaginal intercourse as the Ultimate Act, and therefore the only one that counts.

Teenagers can, and do, have nuanced discussions of sexuality among themselves. There is often talk-ad-nauseum about what Third Base means that Second Base doesn’t include. There are even really good sexuality education programs directed at teenagers that include nuanced discussions of human sexuality. I have even been really impressed with one conservative, religious mother’s musings about appropriate sexuality education.

So I’m disappointed that a program with the funding and the reach of the Silver Ring Thing doesn’t include a more nuanced discussion of the issues. Teenagers are capable of perceiving and discussing nuanced sexuality. So are adults from all walks of life. Why not the Silver Ring Thing too?