The Shame of St. Louis

taken from: TheNation.com

I had originally wanted to mention this article here on the BurnTees blog just because of the subject matter, but as I read through I found something else...another mention of our friend Jessica Valenti who runs Feministing.com.

Over the past seven years, as Michael Reynolds wrote in a Nation cover story last June, George W. Bush's faith-based Administration has transformed the small-time abstinence-only business into a billion-dollar industry profiting off tax-payer money being spent on ineffective new school curriculums.

"I can't think of another federal program where so much money was spent without any oversight and to such little effect," James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, told Reynolds. "It wasn't that policy-makers didn't know that abstinence-only didn't work. In 2000 the Institute of Medicine issued a scathing report on these programs. But they went full steam ahead despite the warning. It's beyond naïve. It's immoral."

Thanks to recent Nation guest blogger Jessica Valenti for alerting me to the story of two eighth grade students in St. Louis who felt the same way and recently tried to protest this naivete and immorality. Other than a local CNN report, Valenti's website, Feministing.com, was the first--and still one of the only--publications or broadcast operations on or off-line to report on Tori Shoemaker and Cheyenne Byrd's brave stand against abstinence-only education.

The two students at Louis & Clark Junior High School protested their school's abstinence-only education program by wearing shirts to school adorned with condoms, reading "Safe Sex or No Sex." For daring to make a statement, they were suspended for two days from school by the regional superindent, who called the shirts "inappropriate" and a "distraction." As Valenti adds: "Yes, because a 'distraction' in the form of free speech is clearly much worse than spreading dangerous misinformation about sex to teens."

The CNN video shows the girls to be smart, thoughtful, engaged citizens--just the sort of students our schools should be proud of producing.

On the one hand, you definitely have to applaud the students, however, I find it hard to completely disagree with the school for suspending them based on, if nothing else, the language on the shirts. I just think it's awful that these schools can't teach abstinence AND save sex. God forbid teens have all the info they need before making their own decisions. If these school, and more importantly the parents, really think that these kids are going to abstain from sex they are sadly mistaken.

I also wanted to point out some interesting comments from the website where the article was originally published:

well...i agree with the kidsm but...ya can't let middle school kids run around with condom shirts on...trust me.

Posted by IBBLEBLIBBLE 02/08/2008 @ 5:35pm

Like others have said...it's all in the presentation. Time and place are key. Nothing smart or thoughtful about a student (subordinate in the context of middle school) using shock value to drive an agenda that their parents could have privately and appropriately consulted with the principal on.

If they had worn "Fuck liberals" t-shirts, I imagine this column would have rethought the standards of free speech.

Slow news day?

Posted by SLIVER 02/08/2008 @ 5:57pm

Sorry Peter,

But this is just the type of twisted sense of morality that only validates the concerns of many Americans when we Pastors and others tell them that the left want's to abandon morals and family values.

These kids were rightfully suspended. I noticed only one parent commented and he was an idiot. He displayed an obvious lack of parental skills.

If they had decent parents, they would be grounded at home with no privileges for at least a month.

This is just another example of the leftist moral sickness that permeates our society. Really sad.

Posted by LVLIBERTY1 02/08/2008 @ 7:12pm