5 Offensive Analogies Abstinence-Only Lessons Use to Tell Teens Sex Makes Them Dirty
Whenever the subject material of an abstinence-only lesson is reported in the media, Americans are typically shocked to hear what kids are hearing in their classes or at their school assemblies. In addition to withholding valuable information about preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, some of these courses also rely on harmful shame-based attitudes about human sexuality to impart negative messages to the 95 percent of Americans who have sex before marriage.
Here are five common analogies that abstinence-only curricula use to teach youth that becoming sexually active will make them worthless — and five good reasons that more states should enact comprehensive sex education requirements:
1. Dirty chocolate.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that a school district in Mississippi uses a Peppermint Patty in its sex ed classes. Allegedly, students are asked to unwrap the chocolate and pass it around to see how dirty it becomes after being touched by multiple people. A spokesperson from the school district says that while that lesson was part of a state-approved curriculum that passed three years ago, the “dirty chocolate” lesson is not currently being implemented. Nonetheless, there’s some evidence that this analogy isn’t unique to that particular district. Other internet commenters recall doing the same Peppermint Patty exercise in their own classes. Others did the “dirty chocolate” lesson with a Hershey Kiss.
2. Used tape.
Tape is another popular tool to demonstrate how sexually active teens become “unclean.” In these demonstrations, a piece of tape is affixed to a student’s arm, then removed, and repeated with several other students. This lesson is supposed to illustrate that, just like tape loses its ability to form a tight bond after coming into contact with multiple people, it’s hard to have an emotionally fulfilling relationship after having multiple sexual partners. Sometimes participants’ wrists are taped together to drive home the point further.