Tonight, William and Mary Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX), the national affiliate of Planned Parenthood on college campuses, will welcome Megan Rapp to speak on the debate over sex education. Rapp is a policy assistant at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a group that advocates for the right to comprehensive sexual education in order to make responsible sexual choices and promote social justice and sexual rights.
p. The teen pregnancy rate in the United States is currently at its lowest since the 1970s, and virginity pledges — promises that young people make to remain abstinent until marriage — are becoming increasingly popular in schools and communities across the country.
p. Still, an average of one million U.S. teens become pregnant every year, and U.S. President George W. Bush has asked Congress for a 33 percent increase in funding for abstinence-only sex education, which would forbid teachers to talk about how contraception works or where to get it.
p. “I feel like people hear about this issue all the time, but everyone’s experience of sex ed is so varied and many students are angry at that lack of consistency,” Morgan Berman ’08, vice president of VOX, said.
p. Through political action, VOX seeks to raise public awareness about reproductive rights and educate young people about sexual health. The pro-choice group advocates birth control and has adopted the “Real Sex Ed Saves Lives” campaign of Planned Parenthood, which is where Rapp and her argument for integrated sex education fits.
p. “Megan will be speaking from a policy perspective, answering questions such as ‘What are people being taught?’ and ‘What are sex ed programs like across the country and especially in Virginia?’” VOX President Devan Barber ’08 said. “The reality is that many kids are getting sexually transmitted diseases and many programs don’t promote safe sex.”
p. Rapp will address sexuality trends, Virginia STD and pregnancy rates, Virginia sex ed laws and policy and what SIECUS research shows about the effectiveness of both abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education programs.
p. “The purpose of sex education is to reach out to middle and high school students and prepare them [on how] to react if they choose to be sexually active or how to react when a friend approaches them with a problem regarding sex,” Berman said.
p. However, VOX seeks to expand sex education and make it applicable to college students. “On the college level, sex education is different, although we still want to tailor to safe sex,” Barber said, adding that tonight’s lecture will provide a more “adult atmosphere” in which students will engage in an understanding of sex education through facts and concrete examples regardless of what they may have been taught in middle or high school.
p. “SIECUS is wonderfully unbiased and analyzes information about sex education policies in the U.S. through comparison and data,” Berman said.
p. Tonight’s lecture, which will be held at the University Center Tidewater Room at 7 p.m., is free and open to all students, faculty and any interested members of the community.