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SEX-ED SITE SHOCKS LAWMAKERS

Students want guidance, not political bickering

April 30, 2011

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THIS MONTH I joined a dozen other high school students convened by the Department of Public Health to discuss the state of sex education in Massachusetts. Though we came from different backgrounds and towns, each of us reached the same dismal conclusion: Current sex-ed practices fail to prepare students for healthy sexual relationships. The negative portrayal that sex receives in the classroom tells students that sex is wrong and should not be discussed with respected adults.

We can change this status quo by approaching sexual health from a practical, not political, perspective. Representatives Marc Lombardo, Republican of Billerica, and Colleen Garry, Democrat of Dracut, have criticized www.mariatalks.com, a sex education website for teens, as vulgar (“Lawmakers call state sex-ed site ‘disgusting,’ ’’ Metro, April 27). But the site employs language that welcomes young adults to a respectful and responsible learning center — a rarity when so many schools beat around the bush.

The state’s sexual education frameworks are vague and out of date; until schools provide adequate sex ed classes, removing funding for www.mariatalks.com would be irrational and irresponsible.

Parents and policymakers must come together to address these challenges, rather than bicker over personal beliefs. We need to take politics out of sex education, and help students make their own path to a healthy lifestyle.

Alex Pratt
Littleton
The writer is a junior at Littleton High School and a candidate for student representative on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.