Comprehensive Sex Ed for the Comprehensively Celibate

KMPatwardhan

As someone who was all but completely celibate throughout high school--not at all by conscious choice--I found the lack of information among sexually active teens, and the politicization of teen sex very frustrating.

As someone who was all but completely celibate throughout high school and this was not at all by conscious choice,
I can tell you that I often found it frustrating to deal with the fact
that a lot of teenagers were under- or mis-informed about safer sex,
that a lot of teenagers were sexually active, and that a lot of
politicians and think tanks believed in stanching teenage sexual
activity entirely. I was fourteen when I started listening to Loveline
(though I didn’t always agree with Dr. Drew) and it began my path of
sex-pertise (as it were). I was eager to get informed. I discovered
Scarleteen in my junior year of high school and happily perused the
site, but at the same time, I’d wonder:

Why am I getting informed about something that’s relevant to everyone else but not to me?

After all, a little less than half of 15-19 year olds have had sex at least once. But if you’re not among those getting laid…nothing you read here can be relevant to you, right? Wrong.

In my case, my state of celibacy came with a bunch of unhealthy
thoughts – what’s the matter with me? Am I in a special class of social
pariahs? I must be the only one who’s more than willing to have sex but
still not having it. I mean, throw in the fact that I’m a girl and that
gender stereotypes abound, and that it’s boys who have the monopoly on
sexual desire and my gender was supposed to be the jealously guarded
keeper of the keys. Here I was breaking that stereotype, and was it not
any boy’s dream come true? So why weren’t they lining up to get with
me? I was especially unattractive. QED.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

You might already see something wrong with that line of thought. If not, I’ll spell it out.
You’re not unattractive. You’re not the only one who’d love to be
hooking up with someone but you’re not. And it’s not – I repeat, not –
the case that heterosexual girls should automatically have a bevy of
potential hookups and if they don’t, that something’s wrong with them.

This bears repeating. Being sexually active isn’t necessarily a mark
of being sexually desirable, and nor is being up for hooking up, but
potential lovers don’t seem or aren’t interested, a mark of being
sexually undesirable. Besides, chances are, you won’t be
celibate for the rest of your life. And whether you engage in partnered
sex at age 16 or 25 or 60 or heck, never, you’ll need to know how to be
safe about it.

Not being sexually active does not exclude you from comprehensive sex education.
(Know too, that there’s more to sexuality than just what you do with
others. There’s masturbation, values, body image, relationships both
romantic and non-romantic.)

This is why I’m not a fan of the line, "Don’t have sex but if you must, then know how to use a condom." I realize that it’s a logical fallacy
but it still feels like there’s an implication that if you’re not
sexually active, then all information is moot, as if the phrase
excludes teens who aren’t sexually active. I’d like to see that phrase
changed to, "Whether you do or don’t have sex and whether you start now
or later or never, you should not be ignorant about safer sex. This
information is crucial no matter what."

I actually believed in abstinence until marriage for a while. But
even then – especially then, because my beliefs were intrinsic, and
appeals to consequences made it seem like waiting wasn’t good simply
for its own sake – it rubbed me the wrong way when teachers said,
"Don’t have sex because that can lead to pregnancy." I mean, let’s do a
thought experiment where some form of birth control (not abstinence)
exists that’s 100% effective against both pregnancy and any and all
STIs to boot. All bets are off then? All reasons to wait for sex are
completely obviated? No? So there are more compelling reasons to wait
to have sex than pregnancy or STIs? Then why the fear that learning
about safer sex will lead to action? Knowing does not mean doing.
Besides, I find that fear is a poor basis for sexual choices all around.

And this brings us full circle. Do not buy into stereotypes. You are
not some sort of freak if you haven’t slept with someone yet, and you
cannot assume that you’ll be abstinent forever. Most importantly of
all, honest, accurate, unvarnished sexual education does not exclude
you.
Abstinence does not mean ignorance.

News Human Rights

Feds Prep for Second Mass Deportation of Asylum Seekers in Three Months

Tina Vasquez

Those asylum seekers include Mahbubur Rahman, the leader of #FreedomGiving, the nationwide hunger strike that spanned nine detention centers last year and ended when an Alabama judge ordered one of the hunger strikers to be force fed.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for the second time in three months, will conduct a mass deportation of at least four dozen South Asian asylum seekers.

Those asylum seekers include Mahbubur Rahman, the leader of #FreedomGiving, the nationwide hunger strike that spanned nine detention centers last year and ended when an Alabama judge ordered one of the hunger strikers to be force-fed.

Rahman’s case is moving quickly. The asylum seeker had an emergency stay pending with the immigration appeals court, but on Monday morning, Fahd Ahmed, executive director of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), a New York-based organization of youth and low-wage South Asian immigrant workers, told Rewire that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer called Rahman’s attorney saying Rahman would be deported within 48 hours. As of 4 p.m. Monday, Rahman’s attorney told Ahmed that Rahman was on a plane to be deported.

As of Monday afternoon, Rahman’s emergency stay was granted while his appeal was still pending, which meant he wouldn’t be deported until the appeal decision. Ahmed told Rewire earlier Monday that an appeal decision could come at any moment, and concerns about the process, and Rahman’s case, remain.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

An online petition was created in hopes of saving Rahman from deportation.

ICE has yet to confirm that a mass deportation of South Asian asylum seekers is set to take place this week. Katherine Weathers, a visitor volunteer with the Etowah Visitation Project, an organization that enables community members to visit with men in detention at the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama, told Rewire that last week eight South Asian men were moved from Etowah to Louisiana, the same transfer route made in April when 85 mostly Muslim South Asian asylum seekers were deported.

One of the men in detention told Weathers that an ICE officer said to him a “mass deportation was being arranged.” The South Asian asylum seeker who contacted Weathers lived in the United States for more than 20 years before being detained. He said he would call her Monday morning if he wasn’t transferred out of Etowah for deportation. He never called.

In the weeks following the mass deportation in April, it was alleged by the deported South Asian migrants that ICE forcefully placed them in “body bags” and that officers shocked them with Tasers. DRUM has been in touch with some of the Bangladeshis who were deported. Ahmed said many returned to Bangladesh, but there were others who remain in hiding.

“There are a few of them [who were deported] who despite being in Bangladesh for three months, have not returned to their homes because their homes keep getting visited by police or intelligence,” Ahmed said.

The Bangladeshi men escaped to the United States because of their affiliations and activities with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the opposition party in Bangladesh, as Rewire reported in April. Being affiliated with this party, advocates said, has made them targets of the Bangladesh Awami League, the country’s governing party.

DHS last year adopted the position that BNP, the second largest political party in Bangladesh, is an “undesignated ‘Tier III’ terrorist organization” and that members of the BNP are ineligible for asylum or withholding of removal due to alleged engagement in terrorist activities. It is unclear how many of the estimated four dozen men who will be deported this week are from Bangladesh.

Ahmed said that mass deportations of a particular group are not unusual. When there are many migrants from the same country who are going to be deported, DHS arranges large charter flights. However, South Asian asylum seekers appear to be targeted in a different way. After two years in detention, the four dozen men set to be deported have been denied due process for their asylum requests, according to Ahmed.

“South Asians are coming here and being locked in detention for indefinite periods and the ability for anybody, but especially smaller communities, to win their asylum cases while inside detention is nearly impossible,” Ahmed told Rewire. “South Asians also continue to get the highest bond amounts, from $20,000 to $50,000. All of this prevents them from being able to properly present their asylum cases. The fact that those who have been deported back to Bangladesh are still afraid to go back to their homes proves that they were in the United States because they feared for their safety. They don’t get a chance to properly file their cases while in detention.”

Winning an asylum claim while in detention is rare. Access to legal counsel is limited inside detention centers, which are often in remote, rural areas.

As the Tahirih Justice Center reported, attorneys face “enormous hurdles in representing their clients, such as difficulty communicating regularly, prohibitions on meeting with and accompanying clients to appointments with immigration officials, restrictions on the use of office equipment in client meetings, and other difficulties would not exist if refugees were free to attend meetings in attorneys’ offices.”

“I worry about the situation they’re returning to and how they fear for their lives,” Ahmed said. “They’ve been identified by the government they were trying to escape and because of their participation in the hunger strike, they are believed to have dishonored their country. These men fear for their lives.”

Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Republicans Can’t Help But Play Politics With the Judiciary

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

Republicans have a good grip on the courts and are fighting hard to keep it that way.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.

Linda Greenhouse has another don’t-miss column in the New York Times on how the GOP outsourced the judicial nomination process to the National Rifle Association.

Meanwhile, Dahlia Lithwick has this smart piece on how we know the U.S. Supreme Court is the biggest election issue this year: The Republicans refuse to talk about it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging doctors to fill in the blanks left by “abstinence-centric” sex education and talk to their young patients about issues including sexual consent and gender identity.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Good news from Alaska, where the state’s supreme court struck down its parental notification law.

Bad news from Virginia, though, where the supreme court struck down Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 felons.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) will leave behind one of the most politicized state supreme courts in modern history.

Turns out all those health gadgets and apps leave their users vulnerable to inadvertently disclosing private health data.

Julie Rovner breaks down the strategies anti-choice advocates are considering after their Supreme Court loss in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.   

Finally, Becca Andrews at Mother Jones writes that Texas intends to keep passing abortion restrictions based on junk science, despite its loss in Whole Woman’s Health.