I speak about Planned Parenthood and the services we offer whenever I have the opportunity. Whether I’m in the grocery checkout line talking about cheap birth control pills to the uninsured cashier or giving impromptu pregnancy options counseling to an esthetician, I’m happy to do it. I am haunted by accounts like Margaret Sanger’s Awakening and Revolt, which reminds me what life continues to be like for women of the world who cannot access family planning services: information is power and power is freedom.
Recently I was asked by a teacher to volunteer at her school’s “career day.” I expected that I would discuss my job roles and duties and spend minimal time discussing the organization I work for. What I found, however, was a school that leapt at the chance for me to discuss age-appropriate, medically accurate reproductive health information with their middle schoolers. I was told that many were likely already having sex and that an elementary schooler had brought condoms to school the week before. The parents had signed waivers allowing the school to discuss sexual health topics with them, so I was asked to answer the questions that the kids had about sex! They divided the groups into “girls” and “boys.”
Three hours and one hundred middle schoolers later, I was completely exhausted. I’d managed to talk about my job role for about three minutes before it was buried below an avalanche of compelling and sometimes frightening sex-related questions. I was able to respond to almost all of them, but referred them to their teachers for those I felt were a bit tricky (e.g., “What does it mean when someone drops the soap in prison?”). As a disclaimer, please note that my entire talk was themed on preventing teen sex, and abstinence was thoroughly encouraged.
These kids had serious questions about their bodies, each other’s bodies, and SEX. There are a lot of adults out there giving their opinions about what kids should and shouldn’t know about the birds and the bees, but I’m here to tell you: they already know more than you’re comfortable with!
Here, I give you highlights from questions in the classroom: