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Kids Wearing Condoms to School

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To protest their school's abstinence curriculum, two students wear condom-decorated t-shirts.

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Cheyenne Byrd, 14, and Victoria Shoemaker, 15, were suspended from their Illinois school after wearing protest shirts adorned with prophylactics. The girls disagreed with Wood River Middle School's sex education program and let everyone know by writing "Safe Sex or No Sex" on their shirts. Mom•Logic spoke exclusively to both Cheyenne's mother, Cari, and Victoria's mom, Elizabeth, to find out how they felt about their daughters' suspension.

ML: What was your reaction when the school called you?

Elizabeth:I was really upset with the school. They questioned Victoria and she kept saying, "Call my mom, call my mom." When they finally got done, they told me to meet her in front of the school. I did not feel it was right. I should have had the right to talk about the suspension with the school.
Cari: I got a call from the school on Monday morning saying they were sending Cheyenne
home. I didn't even get a call to discuss it with them.

ML: Do you think sex education should be taught in the middle school?
Elizabeth: I don't agree with the abstinence-only class. They should be taught sex education.
Cari: I agree with the abstinence program. To me it makes sense, but you also have to be open with kids because they are going to do what they want to do, and you can't watch them 24/7.

ML: Does it scare you that your daughters aren't getting sex education in school?
Elizabeth: It scares me a lot. I hope they have the sense to come to me. I am not one of those parents saying, "Oh my kid would never do that." In the real world, a lot of kids do it.
Cari: They have to be taught. There are too many kids who had no clue. Parents around here treat sex like a taboo subject. We are a working class neighborhood and many of us hang on to the old ideas and turn a blind eye.

ML: Did you agree with what they did?
Elizabeth:When it first happened, I didn't know if I should have applauded her or grounded her. I think she was right, but she should have handled it differently.
Cari: I was very proud of her. I was painfully shy when I was young, and I never stood up or spoke up about what I believed in. I support her and I hope it will lead to other changes in the school.


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11 comments so far | Post a comment now
Lynne February 9, 2008, 3:21 PM

A dumb idea

Anonymous February 9, 2008, 5:28 PM

Yes, at some point kids will have sex. I got pregnant in college and it was probably the hardest thing I had to face. Finishing college with a child is tough, not impossible, but very difficult. I can’t imagine having a child in middle school….so, do I think they should teach abstinence in middle school, the answer is yes. Kids that are that young should not even be considering sexual intercourse.

amanda February 9, 2008, 5:54 PM

i believe it is a very good idea to teach sex ed in middle school. parents may want to avoid it but kids as young as nine are having sex. i am a single teenage mom.and yes its hard at times but i wouldnt trade mt daughter for the world. but at the same time im not saying for young kids to go out and do it. no, talk to your kids. sometimes it doesnt always work but atleast you can say you tried. kids are going to do what they want to nowadays. but let them know that there are safe choices and contraceptions out there.my mom gave me the talk.but i was young then. and i never had a sex ed class. they just taught us about our reproductive organs and such. all i can say is… its happening every where and although we cant stop it from happening we can help.

melanie February 9, 2008, 7:37 PM

They need to learn sex ed to help them understand the consequences of having sex, its not to give them permission to do it. Kids are thinking about it and doing it alot earlier than we did and the more informed they are the better able they are to make the right decisions. But we as parents cant depend on the school to do all the teaching, we also have to have this talk with our children and be open to their questions and not be judgemental.

ELise February 9, 2008, 7:48 PM

Sex education NEEDS to be taught in Middle School. I went to a private school and we were taught abstinence, but the truth is that kids are going to do what they want. The middle school I live accross from had 5 8th graders not graduate because they were pregnant! Are you kidding me?! When you have both parents working you need to make sure that the school is doing their part for these children! It is the schools obligation to education these kids…even on safer sex!

Cyndi February 10, 2008, 9:53 AM

I’m very serprised that they aren’t teaching Sex Ed in Middle School. I think that’s such an important age. when I wsa in 8th grade a good friend became pregnant at 14 and that was 20 years ago. I think that if they teach kids things that are facts of life early, they won’t be walking around clueless when they go to actually have sex.
I don’t think having a sex ed class is saying it’s okay to have sex. I think it’s saying, if you choose to have sex, think about your options.

julie9876 March 7, 2008, 3:37 PM

I don’t think that abstinence-only approaches work. My only concern with the sex-ed courses is their approach to the situation. The course guide needs to be approached more carefully. When I was 12 I remember my sex-ed teacher telling us what a clitoris was. We didn’t need to know HOW to have sex, we needed to learn why not to. For sex-ed classes the course guide needs to be chosen carefully. I also question whether or not these children are mature enough to listen carefully to what is being said and not make it into a big joke among their friends. In the end it falls on us as parents to know our kids and to have enough trust built between us that they will come to us with questions and we can talk to them respectfully about it.

gina September 12, 2008, 3:42 PM

I disagree. First of all, parents need to take more responsibility in this type of personal education. We as parents know our child better than anyone. I rather educate my child on abstinence and the consequences of sex so i know how much my child knows. If they make a mistake later, I would not blame the school for not teaching it to them. Every child ages or develops at different times and has differnt religious beliefs. If my child is at that stage than it is my or should i say our(parent’s) responsibility to teach our child. WE NEED TO BE MORE INVOLVED IN OUR CHILDREN”S LIFE>

renee September 16, 2008, 7:24 AM

kids are gonna do what they are gonna do.u can advise them on waiting or using birth control but in the end u can only hope that they have heard you and do the right thing,u can be there all the time.

nicole February 24, 2009, 2:56 PM

kids are always going to do what they want to do so I think you should teach safe sex in school. I’m 19 and i didn’t even think about sex in middle school but all of my friends were having sex, one even got pregnant in 7th grade and had an abortion. Telling kids what not to do only makes them want to go out and do it anyways but informing them about it makes them think twice about doing it. You also have to remember peer pressure and how there is a such thing. 13 year olds shouldn’t be having sex but if they did id rather it be safe sex because we don’t need babies having babies or anymore std’s spreaded

MICHELLE February 24, 2009, 4:08 PM

I THINK THAT KEEPING THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN ON “ALL” SUBJECTS IS THE BEST WAY. TALKING ABOUT IT NOW WILL HELP LATER. THEY NEED TO FEEL COMFORTABLE ASKING QUESTIONS AND NOT SHAME. MY BOYS KNEW WHERE BABIES CAME FROM ALOT EARLIER THEN MOST KIDS. BUT IT WAS THE BASICS. THEY WATCHED IN THE WOMB AND WE DISCUSSED IT. I’M A 2 TIME SURROGATE SO WE ALSO DISCUSSED THE MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS TO GET PREGNANT. MY BOYS ARE NOW 8 & 12. I’M SURE THEY HAVE MORE IMFORMATION THEN MOST KIDS. THEY GET MORE IMFORMATION AS THEY GET OLDER AS NEEDED. MY PARENTS RAISED ME THIS WAY. MY HUSBANDS FAMILY COMPLETLY OPPOSITE. SO “IT” WASN’T DISCUSSED! THEY KNOW ABOUT FERTILIZATION/IMPLANTING/FETAL DEVELOPMENT/LABOR & DELIVERY/IVF. WE WILL NEXT MOVE ON TO INTERCOURSE(12 YR.OLD)THEY ARE WELL INFORMED NOW SO WHEN THEY HAVE TO MAKE “THEIR” DECISSION ON WHETHER TO HAVE SEX OR NOT IT WILL BE MADE WITH ALL THE INFORMATION NEEDED. OF COARSE WE WOULD LIKE THEM TO WAIT UNTIL MARRAIGE BUT WE ARE REALISTIC. THE SCHOOLS HAVE ENOUGH TO DO BUT THEY NEED TO TEACH SEX-ED IN CASE THE PARENTS ARE NOT TALKING TO THEM. THERE ARE STILL TOO MANY UNINFORMED FIRST TIMERS GETTING PREGNANT OR GETTING DISEASES.
THE SCHOOLS ARE WORKING WITH PARENTS. EVEN IF YOU DON’T SEE IT THAT WAY.


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