chapter  21
28 Pages

SEXUALITY, SCHOOLING, AND ADOLESCENT FEMALES: THE MISSING DISCOURSE OF DESIRE

D e s p i t e the a t tent ion d e v o t e d to teen sexuality, pregnancy, a n d p a r e n t i n g i n

this c o u n t r y , a n d despite the ev idence o f effective i n t e r v e n t i o n s a n d the w i d e -

spread p u b l i c s u p p o r t expressed f o r these i n t e r v e n t i o n s ( H a r r i s , 1985), the

systematic i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f sex e d u c a t i o n a n d S B H C s cont inues to be o b -

structed b y the controversies s u r r o u n d i n g t h e m ( K a n t r o w i t z et a l . , 1987; L e o ,

1 9 8 6 ) . T h o s e w h o resist sex e d u c a t i o n o r S B H C s o f t e n present the i r v i e w s as

based o n ra t iona l i ty a n d a c o n c e r n f o r p r o t e c t i n g the y o u n g . F o r s u c h o p p o -

nents, sex e d u c a t i o n raises quest ions o f p r o m o t i n g p r o m i s c u i t y a n d i m m o r t a l -

ity, a n d o f u n d e r m i n i n g f a m i l y values. Y e t the language o f the challenges s u g -

gests an affect substantially m o r e p r o f o u n d a n d p r i m i t i v e . G a r y B a u e r , U n d e r -

secretary o f E d u c a t i o n i n the U . S . D e p a r t m e n t o f E d u c a t i o n , fo r e x a m p l e ,

constructs an i m a g e o f i m m o r t a l i t y l i t t e red b y adolescent sexual i ty a n d d r u g

abuse:

There is ample impressionistic evidence to indicate that drug abuse and promis-

cuity are not independent behaviors. W h e n inhibitions fall, they collapse across

the board. W h e n people o f any age lose a sense o f right and wrong, the loss is

not selective. . . . [T]hey are all expressions o f the same ethical vacuum among

many teens. . . . (1986)

E v e n S u r g e o n G e n e r a l C . Evere t t K o o p , a s t rong s u p p o r t e r o f sex e d u c a -

t i o n , recent ly e x p l a i n e d : " [ W ] e have to be as e x p l i c i t as necessary. . . . Y o u

can't talk o f the dangers o f snake p o i s o n i n g a n d n o t m e n t i o n snakes" ( q u o t e d

i n L e o , 1986, p. 54). S u c h c o m m o n l y used a n d o f t e n repeated m e t a p h o r s asso-

ciate adolescent sexual i ty w i t h v i c t i m i z a t i o n a n d danger.