Censorship was a lighting bolt that awakened my dedication to youth activism and to bringing open discussions to a community that is slow and unreceptive to change.
Lizzie J is a sophomore in college and a member of the Campus Organizing Team.
The importance of sexual health did not occur to me until I entered Boston College. Growing up in an extremely liberal and secular environment, I did not realize how lucky I was in my upbringing. Although I struggled through the awkwardness of a comprehensive sexual education during the tender junior high years, I learned the practice of safe sexual activity, and the personal and social repercussions if I engaged in such. However, I did not truly understand its significance until I entered an environment starkly different from where I was raised.
Now a sophomore at Boston College and Director of Safe Sites for BC Students for Sexual Health—a small but fiercely thriving advocacy group—I both reject and am thankful for its more conservative outlook. On one hand, I face frustrating roadblocks to providing services, materials and education to my peers; on the other, I have come to appreciate my ability to thrive in a culture in which frank discussion of sexuality, sexual health and contraceptives, and one’s orientation are taboo. This censorship was a lighting bolt that awakened my dedication to youth activism and to bringing open discussions to a community that is slow and unreceptive to change. It is my attendance at Boston College that has opened my eyes to the life I want to lead: one of tolerance, education and breaking harmful taboos.
Whoever stated, “ignorance is bliss” did not live the life of many American teenagers: unprotected sex, teen pregnancy, and leaving higher education in order to care for a child. Ignorance is nothing to celebrate; it fosters irresponsibility, life-altering mistakes, and the preservation of juvenile behavior. Comprehensive sexual education builds the American future by creating independent and capable generations, who are strong in their personal choices and convictions. Therefore we must teach not only the physical aspect of sexual health, but also the spiritual, the moral and the cultural. We must teach the effects of sexual decisions, and allow individuals to make peace with who and what they find important: family, friends, oneself, and if so, a higher power.
Abstinence-only “education” is not simply an abstinence from sexual activity; it is the abstinence from knowledge, maturity and independence. Therefore it is our duty to provide a world for the coming generations in which knowledge is valued and encouraged, and the strength to become free is within their grasp, and the wish in their spirit.