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District Attorney in Wisconsin: Challenging our Right to Sexual Health Knowledge--Editorial

By HERWriter
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I was planning to continue detailing my personal journey through birth control options, but due to recent Wisconsin news regarding barriers to reproductive health, I am taking this article in a slightly different direction.

On February 24th of this year, I watched Governor Jim Doyle sign the Healthy Youth Act into law (and I even got my picture taken with him!). This new law mandates that public school teachers provide students with age-appropriate, evidence-based sex education. It requires that the curriculum be comprehensive for each age and stage of development, presenting tools that allow parents, students and teachers to engage in conversations on a variety of important topics: human anatomy and growth, sexual activity, contraceptive options, and healthy choices, among others. (Read more about the law here: http://www.ppawi.org/sexed)

So far, so good!

Unfortunately, in central Wisconsin’s Juneau County, District Attorney Scott Southworth is taking steps to overturn the benefits of this law, restricting students’ access to medically accurate reproductive health information. On April 6 the DA sent a memo to teachers in five districts, possibly falsely informing them that if they teach their students about contraceptives, (rather than simply teaching abstinence as they did before passage of the Healthy Youth Act), they will be prosecuted for “contributing to the delinquency of a child.” Yikes.

Southworth’s faulty logic assumes that including information about contraception in the classroom encourages sexual behavior. He equates education to aiding a crime, (sex between minors) and accuses teachers of causing higher rates of sexual assault. Newsflash for Mr. Southworth – education doesn’t lead to pregnancy, lack of contraception does!

Using what I believe are underhanded intimidation tactics, this DA is hoping to scare teachers into breaking the law and returning to ineffective abstinence-only education. Recent studies show that abstinence-only instruction is actually positively correlated with higher rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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