Revised version of Making Proud Choices! in Charleston, SC. Page 87
Making Proud Choices! is still under consideration by the Charleston County School District for middle and high school. Over the summer, a group of parents reviewed the revised Making Proud Choices! to determine if there was anything of concern contained in it.
Public protests forced the proponents of Making Proud Choices! to “sanitize” the Facilitator Manual of some content that parents found vulgar and offensive. While we are sure they did their best, the parents found that the messaging remains the same in the revised version. The DVDs, posters, activities, and student workbooks, and handouts, which will also be used, were not edited and remain the same.
The parents conclude that Making Proud Choices! is still unacceptable, and even harmful for students. It is the mindset of the authors, proponents, and teachers, who would tell these things to our children that bothers us the most.
WHO thinks that teaching sexual foreplay to adolescents and teens is a smart way to prevent pregnancies and disease?
“Abstinence” should never be taught as “avoiding unprotected sex.”
Any information about sex should stick to the facts as the SC Lawinstructs. Making Proud Choices! violates the Law by not teaching abstinence from all sexual activity, does not emphasize abstinence until marriage, does not teach the benefits of marriage, and does not inform students about the risks and limitations of contraception.
Following are some of the comments from parents about their findings:
The lessons are designed to be interactive…Imagine self-conscious adolescents and teens participating in these activities:
One lesson has students talking one-on-one to brainstorm endings to these kinds of sentences. “A person can make condoms less awkward by…”
In one lesson students have to stand under a sign that says if they agree or disagree about attitude statements such as, “Abstinence is an easy choice to make” and “It would be easy to talk about contraception with my friends including boyfriend/girlfriend.” What kinds of message does this send to peers?
Students brainstorm the names of condom brands and are taught about types and flavors of condoms, including condoms designed for little boys called Easy Rider. (page 87)
During the condom practice demonstrations where condoms, lubrication and a penis model are provided to each student pair, the facilitator is supposed to say, “Some religions and individuals do not believe in using condoms. Your beliefs will become an important part of your decision making.” (page 86) Teen sex and how sex and reproduction are taught is a public health issue, not just a religious issue.
The condom use activities break down natural inhibitions that children have at their age regarding sexual activity. Facilitator note, “There may be lots of giggling and nervous behavior. The participants will have lots of fun.” (page 90)
Overall, it [Making Proud Choices! revised version] still just pays lip-service to abstinence.
“Marriage” was only mentioned once. “At some point most people transition from abstinence to being sexually active…” [as in marriage] (page 42) This is not true. According to the CDC, most students surveyed nationally (17 and under) have not had sex. Why tell 11-17 year old students that most of their peers will have sex, except to normalize it?
Making Proud Choices! glorifies condom use. One scenario had a girl saying, “I’m glad you agreed to use condoms. I feel like you really care about me.” (page 178)
In the lesson on negotiating and refusing sex when you don’t have a condom, one acceptable response was, “Let’s go buy some condoms right now.” None of the responses considered recommitting to abstinence. (page 180)
It normalizes sexual behavior for young teens. The Facilitator’s guide discusses the scenario of two 14 year-olds who have been dating for a year and both want to have sex. The ultimate solution is condoms and “Safe Sex.” (page 122) Why are they not told that they are minors incapable of legally consenting to sex with anyone.
It redefines “intimacy” as just sex. A note to the facilitator says, “Main points to cover: Other things can lead to intimacy and orgasm without risking getting pregnant or infected with an STD or HIV.” (page 124) Sex affects the whole person and should be much more than keeping the genitals safe.
Making Proud Choices! is just a sex program for minors and teens. It teaches how to have sex and how to have protected sex with condoms. It is not about reproduction or how to form a family within marriage. (pages 2, 4, 10, 60-66)
Where is the research to support the following statement? Adolescents “struggle with issues of self-esteem, and self-pride. Due to this, it is extremely important that they learn to feel good about themselves and their decision to practice safe sex.” (pages 13, 81 #10)
Making Proud Choices! in no way teaches teens the skills to say no to sex, only how to say no to “unprotected sex.” And, it fails to teach students that condoms are not 100% protective. Students should be reminded about this often throughout the course.
It fails to teach students that some STDs do not have symptoms. It states that anyone can get STDs, and that condoms are the only way to prevent the transmission of STDs. That is medically inaccurate information. What about abstinence? Students who abstain do not get STDs and several STDs are spread outside the protection of a condom. (pages 73-77)
Sexually active teens are not encouraged to return to an abstinent lifestyle. It is assumed that sexually active teens will continue having sex.
Redefines what it means to be “Proud and Responsible” within a sexual context, regardless of the values they have learned from their parents. Rationale: “The emphasis on being proud and responsible provides motivation for engaging in health-protective behavior and for encouraging others to do the same.” (page 40)
It teaches students to always use condoms when having vaginal, oral, and anal sex. This assumes they will have vaginal, oral and anal sex. Adolescents are concrete in their thinking and take instruction at face value. Therefore, this is not age appropriate. It also normalizes all types of sexual acts.
Students are not taught that infatuation and/or sexual activity can affect their judgment. Yet, during the condom lessons they are told, “Refrain from using alcohol or other drugs because they affect your judgment.” (page 92)
In the lesson on Risk Behaviors for HIV, students are taught Green Light, Yellow Light, and Red Light activities. The lesson is about HIV transmission, but is that what teens will remember? The immaturity and impulsiveness of adolescents and teens is not considered when labeling sexual behaviors as Yellow Lights. Many teens will take the challenge, take the hit, and might think that these activities are what they can “get away with.” Yellow Light activities are:
“Touching your partner’s body parts”
“Vaginal sex using a condom”
“Oral sex on a female using a dental dam or condom” and
“Having sex with only one partner using a condom.” (page 108)
In the activity “Condoms are the Proud and Responsible Thing to Do!” students are told that:
“If you use condoms, it will be easier to reach your goals and dreams” “You will feel better about yourself (higher self-esteem)” and “You can do more for your family and community.” (page 150) Where is the research to support this?
Students are also told that “Condoms don’t have to be embarrassing if…You have a supply of them ready to use.” (page 150-153)
This lesson is one that was “cleaned up” by the proponents. It use to be called, “How To Make Condoms Fun and Pleasurable!” The verbiage about how condoms can be used as a method of foreplay, sexual fantasy, sexy/sensual, teasing, hiding condoms on your body, and how condoms make erections last longer have been removed. The intent of the revised lesson is the same.
None of the material as presented in the videos is age appropriate in my estimation. There seemed to be a nominal suggestion of abstinence, and then immediate reference back to the use of condoms. There was nothing about abstinence until marriage.
One of the DVDs to be shown in class describes how to use condoms during sex, by talking about the female’s role, sexual arousal, rolling condom on, intercourse, orgasm, holding onto the rim, removing the condom and relaxation. Videos (visual images) will be remembered longer than words.
Another DVD called “Nicole’s Choice” was difficult for me to watch. The video opens and closes with scenes of heavy foreplay and intercourse. There is talk about having unprotected sex. Nicole now wants her partner to use a condom. Another scene shows Nicole at a doctor visit. The doctor talks about STDs, including HPV, prior to the exam. Nicole finds out that she has an STD from a previous boyfriend. Her girlfriend shuns her only to find out that she, too, had sex with that same boy and is infected as well. There is talk about how condoms can be fun by using different kinds of condoms. Abstinence is mentioned at the end, but there seems to be laughing and mocking about it. Then more talk about the pleasures of condoms, putting them on, lubricating, etc. Contracting an STD is no longer the problem. The problem to be solved becomes making sex with condoms fun, so that they will be used. If HPV is the STD contracted, nothing is said about HPV being transmitted skin-to-skin outside of the protection of a condom. Condoms do not make sex 100% safe.
A DVD called “Wrap It Up” Teen Condom Use…” revolves around a boy not wanting to use a condom. He says he will protect his partner by “pulling out.” His partner encourages him salaciously by talking about types, colors, flavors of condoms, putting them on, etc. There really is no talk about abstinence as to what it really is, the healthiest choice, but is spoken of by the girl as a THREAT, if the condom is not used. This was terribly disturbing to me.
The revised version of Making Proud Choices! is still unacceptable. It sends unhealthy, even dangerous messages to adolescents and teens about the appropriateness of sexual activity at their age and outside of marriage.
Making Proud Choices! omits “medically accurate information” about the risks and side effects of hormonal contraception and the limitations of condoms. It censors healthy messages such as abstinence and marriage, and promotes sensuality. It teaches immature students how to reach orgasm by using condoms, as part of STD prevention, and it gives students false assurances that if they use condoms, they will have a happy future. Where is the research to support that?
If academic achievement is the goal of our schools, how can students learn anything when the school and students’ minds are saturated with sexual information?
If this concerns you, as it did the parents who spent hours reviewing the revised edition of Making Proud Choices!, contact your School Board Trustees. Consider sending these comments to the Trustees.