Speaking of Sex Education

When I turned on my computer this morning and opened my internet browser, the first thing that popped up was a news article entitled “DA’s sex ed warning befuddles Wisc. teachers, kids.”

So, what’s going on?

The District Attorney for Juneau County, Scott Southworth, sent a letter last month to area school districts warning that “health teachers who tell students how to put on a condom or take birth-control pills could face criminal charges.” What sort of criminal charges? Well, they could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, facing up to nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

I looked it up. The age of consent in Wisconsin is 18. According to the linked news article, children under age 17 who have sex with each other can be prosecuted as juveniles, while seventeen-year-olds who have sex with one another can be convicted as adults of a misdemeanor.

While, as the article states, Wisconsin schools are not required to teach sex ed, under a new law passed in February and backed by Planned Parenthood, schools that do must teach sex ed must adopt a comprehensive approach. They are to include “the benefits of abstinence, the proper use of contraceptives, how to make responsible decisions and the criminal penalties for underage sex.”

This puts Health teachers in sticky situation. If they teach sex ed, they legally need to include information on contraceptives, but, they are being told by the DA that including such information could result in criminal charges. Now Scott Southworth sounds like a bit of  nutjob, and I can hardly imagine that a teacher following state law and recent legislation would actually get jail time or a fine. Still, the implications are broader. Don’t our kids need accurate information? Aren’t most of us left sorely lacking, trying to figure it out on our own, for better or for worse?

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