Opinion

Top 5 reasons why sex ed is no joke | Amy Johnson

Mountain Dew as a contraceptive? Bleach as a cure for sexually transmitted infections? If you think I’m kidding, guess again. These myths are alive and well in teen culture from coast to coast.

1. Drinking Mountain Dew or smoking pot will prevent a female from becoming pregnant. It seems absurd, right? However, there were youth in every one of 15 states represented at a recent National Interfaith training — from Maine to Washington, California, Florida and everywhere in between — who confirmed they knew people who believed this was true.

2. Drinking a capful of bleach will prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. This is equally as prevalent and dangerous. Ingesting bleach is toxic, and done repeatedly could cause death. Even in small doses, burns in the esophagus are not uncommon. The belief it will cure an STI is as appalling as myth #3.

3. Sitting in a pan of bleach will cure genital herpes. In reality, it will only cause likely chemical burns on the site. There is no cure for genital herpes — or oral herpes, for that matter. And these herpes aren’t picky about where they are contracted. If someone is engaging in oral sex, they can transfer either virus to either the genitals or oral area. Bleach doesn’t help herpes on the mouth, either.

4. If you put earwax in a woman’s vagina, you can tell if she has an STI. The only way to tell if someone has an sexually transmitted infection (STI) and what it is or they are is to get tested. If you or someone you know is sexually active, they should be tested regularly, even if using protection. And remember, hormonal methods of birth control, like the pill, the ring, the patch or an injection, do not protect against STI’s.

5. Teens understand their anatomy. Please tell that to the young women who are educating their friends in high school that women have a urethral opening, a vaginal opening and an anus — in fact, three openings, not one. True story.

While there will always be myths and urban legends in our lives, we have the responsibility to make sure we are doing everything we can to educate our youth, and that includes education about their bodies and sexuality. Knowledge is power, and more knowledge allows our youth to make better, safer and more responsible choices.

Contact U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith today to encourage them to:

• Remove the abstinence-only Title V money from the health care legislation. The federal guidelines for use of that money have contributed to the development of these myths.

• Continue their support for the REAL Act. REAL stands for Responsible Education About Life Act, and would provide federal guidelines for sexuality education similar to those we already have here in Washington state. For more information, go to www.advocatesforyouth.org

As responsible adults, we need to team up, stand up and speak up for our children’s right to the truth.

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