Sex ed­u­ca­tion re­form: Do it for Ryan

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - DEB­O­RAH SIM­MONS

Re­mem­ber Ryan White? Di­ag­nosed with he­mo­philia as a new­born in De­cem­ber 1971, Ryan un­der­went blood trans­fu­sions to stay alive and 13 years later learned he had con­tracted HIV from con­tam­i­nated blood.

A valiant war­rior, Ryan died in 1990 — but not be­fore he made us think, re­think and then think again about what was mis­tak­enly dubbed the “gay men’s” disease.

We could not save Ryan but we can and must save the chil­dren.

With chil­dren like Ryan be­ing in­fected with the HIV virus be­cause of ig­no­rance and promis­cu­ity, it’s high time we re-ed­u­cate our­selves and sit down with our young chil­dren and young adults to have “the talk” — about the birds, bees and ab­sti­nence.

We’ve handed off “the talk” to pub­lic schools, and they have mud­died the mes­sage.

While schools pump up the vol­ume on teach­ing gen­der iden­tity, mak­ing con­doms eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and con­tin­u­ing to bow to spe­cial in­ter­ests’ pres­sure to teach “safe sex,” our young peo­ple are tee­ter­ing in the shadow of death.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased a year ago, just be­fore World AIDS Day, 13- to 24-year olds in the U.S. make up more than a quar­ter of new HIV in­fec­tions an­nu­ally.

And more than half of those youth are un­aware they are HIV-pos­i­tive, the re­port by the fed­eral Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion says.

To know a child is ill, as was the case with baby Ryan, is one thing. You take ac­tion, and do what you can to make your child healthier and keep risky be­hav­ior at bay. What are we do­ing? We are shirk­ing our re­spon­si­bil­ity. In­stead of hav­ing the con­ver­sa­tions with our chil­dren, we are al­low­ing our chil­dren to learn about sex, sex­ual be­hav­ior and sex­ual iden­tity in a school house, which is risky in and of it­self be­cause we should be our chil­dren’s pri­mary mes­sen­gers and the mes­sages rest in our hearts and hands.

And yet again, af­ter cut­ting out health ed­u­ca­tion dur­ing Ryan’s life­time and re­plac­ing it with sex ed­u­ca­tion, we are be­ing en­cour­aged to turn our backs on our chil­dren.

An an­nual re­port re­leased last week by D.C. Ap­ple­seed on HIV/AIDS prac­tices and poli­cies in the Dis­trict gave the city an A in con­dom dis­tri­bu­tion; for ed­u­ca­tion, tra­di­tional pub­lic schools got a B+ while pub­lic char­ter schools got a C.

Well, here we go, press­ing against another World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, when re­ports and stud­ies in­evitably pro­claim that we are mak­ing mea­sur­able progress “but …”

There’s al­ways a “but” be­cause we are afraid to talk to and with our own dog­gone chil­dren.

That fear of fly­ing en­dan­gers yet another gen­er­a­tion of young peo­ple, youths who are be­ing told that boys and girls are the same when we know they are not, and that hav­ing sex at a very young age OK be­cause we and they can deal with the con­se­quences at the foot of the bridge.

Well, Ryan had no choice, and he had no choice be­cause we waited too late. Think about that. We must save our chil­dren. Ev­ery sin­gle time you are asked to con­sider to sex ed­u­ca­tion re­form in­stead of health ed­u­ca­tion re­form think about Ryan and the HIV/AIDS rates.

And re­mem­ber: HIV/AIDS is not a “gay men’s” disease; if it were, Ryan would not have died from the con­se­quences of its in­fec­tion and our chil­dren would not be con­tract­ing it at alarm­ing rates

If all of the above sounds like I’m preach­ing, it is be­cause I am — and you should be, too.

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