Condoms Shouldn’t Be A Secret
May 17, 2009 § 1 Comment
Last week, my grade went on a school bonding trip to the Liberty Science Center. I must admit, I enjoyed it immensely, at least once I got over the fact that we were the only people there over the age of 11, excluding parents. I took a look at the Infection Connection exhibit, which had a lot of cool interactive displays like digital representations of disease rates by country and a model of the human body which you could diagnose after examining (I was quite proud that I got cholera correct on the first try).
I particularly liked the exhibit because of its firm handling of decidedly squishy subjects – namely STIs. A video discussed the global impact of the HIV/AIDS virus; it was accompanied by an excellent display of posters promoting condom usage (No Glove, No Love! and simply, Use a Condom!). We barely (and begrudgingly) grazed over the subject of condoms in my tenth grade health class, and here is a well-funded museum teaching kids old enough to read why they are so damn important! It blew my mind, in a great way.
The curators did something so right by presenting STIs as any other harmful infection: they resisted the Puritan urge to turn that section of the exhibit into a hypersexual caricature or a judgment zone. Contrary to conservative fear-talk, teaching youngsters about the dangers of STIs and ways to have fun while keeping their bodies safe does not need to be a big brouhaha. I’m so sick of the online “articles” that profess the secret to having “that conversation” with your kid. It shouldn’t be a single potent encounter that makes both sides nervous and leaves lethal questions unanswered; rather, talking about sex should be a life-long reality.