Thursday, January 12, 2006

Surprise! I'm Health Literate!

I was never given "The Talk". For several years, I thought "The Birds and the Bees" was some type of horrific animalistic punishment. I would occasionally hear my friends converse in hushed tones about the terrible embarrasment wrought by this two-headed flying wraith. Then I turned eleven...and realized they were talking about sex. It struck me as a bit odd that something I had been aware of for almost half my life was so taboo, but after much thought, I came to the realization that I lived in a bubble composed of white conservative Christians, sprinkled with a minority or two for show. This meant, of course, that anything pertaining to sex or sexuality was to be briskly shoved under the rug, at least officially.

I bypassed health class in middle school, choosing instead to educate myself about the wonders of adolescense and sin (take that however you will...your words, not mine). Year after year, I "forgot" to select health as one of my electives until finally, the second semester of my senior year, I could push it back no further. Now, every morning at 9:10 or so, I make my way to the windowless cell I have affectionately dubbed "hellth". I suppose it wouldn't be such a tiresome endeavor had I not known everything in the curriculum before walking through the door January 4th, but I am not so lucky. Day after day, I am subjected to readings and lectures that only tell me things I've already learned, and as my attention flutters about the room in boredom, I can't help but notice how little the rest of the class cares. It seems to me that none of this information is new to anyone else either.

Why go to the trouble of paying a teacher to stand in front of me on the first day of class and say, "This will be one of the easiest classes you will take"? If all of the parents in town have already gone to the trouble of talking to their children about "risk behaviors", what is the point of the class? Suppose for a second that I don't live in a homogenous district. What then? How do we decide what approach to sex we teach our young? I say we leave this stuff to the parents. The state and local governments have no business telling me not to binge drink or sodomize a cow. It's in their better interest if I die early. After all, isn't it the informed citizen, which I hope to become, who is most able to see through all of their deception and spin?

There you have it, Rick Perry. If you want to stay in office, let me kill myself with chemicals. By warning me, you jeopardize your whole political career.


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