Eco Sex Ed

I read about issues outside of concerns for the environment (I know, gasp!), and one of the things I’ve been reading about lately is the efficacy of school sex ed programs. Mr Teeny-bop is right around the age where, although he’s so young it scares me, you gotta seriously think about it. Australia is pretty open-minded about sex (legal age is 16, the kids start learning about condoms and stuff in primary school). In America, however, lots of places rely on abstinence-until-marriage type of advice, which is about as effective as paper parasol in a monsoon. Yeah, I just made that analogy (metaphor?) up.

There’s been some discussion recently, on some blogs I read, about moving towards an abstinence-until-ready style message instead, which is in keeping with growing acceptance of de facto families. (Read Alex DiBranco’s post, Could Abstinence-Until-Ready Programs Work? for more detail.) Adding to the confusion is the way the messages can be interpreted for different cultural groups. For example, Whitney Teal’s post on Abstinence Education, Minority Teens and Religion on the Women’s Rights blog indicates that even in areas where safe sex (condoms, birth control pill etc) is advocated, there is still reasonably high numbers of teen pregnancies among Black and Hispanic populations, likely due to the higher importance these groups (typically) place on religion. Safe sex is pre-meditated sex (you have to plan to get a condom or the pill), which means you willfully had sex outside of marriage, and didn’t just get caught up in the heat of the moment. The latter is considered more acceptable.

So when I saw this post on Endangered Species condoms on ecorazzi, it occurred to me that the environment might just be the one thing that crosses cultural, religious and socio-economic divides. I wonder if anyone has thought about using eco-consciousness as a motivator for safe sex?

The crux of the argument is that condoms reduce unplanned pregnancy, which in turn reduces overpopulation. I talked more about why overpopulation is bad here, but the Centre for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Arizona is specifically making a point about how overpopulation is affecting plants and animals, particularly endangered species. Think of the images of the polar bears on shrinking ice caps and all the stories we’ve heard lately of the demise of wild tigers. Think of the orangutans in Indonesia, dying as their forests are cleared to plant palm trees for palm oil. All of these animals, and many more, are dying due to human influence – influence that would be dramatically reduced if we simply had fewer people living on the Earth.

So their solution is to start their own little safe sex ed campaign, complete with pretty pictures and the opportunity to win a lifetime supply of condoms. I think it’s pretty genius.

Artwork promoting the use of condoms to save endangered animals - sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Arizona.

Artwork promoting the use of condoms to save endangered animals - sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Arizona.

I also think schools everywhere, but particularly in those places with a lot of cultural and religious resistance to the use of condoms, could jump on the bandwagon. The choice of whether or not to have sex before marriage and how you’ll do that is a personal one, but the choice of whether or not to damage the environment is one that everyone has a stake in. Maybe this could be another tool to help kids who struggle with the idea of pre-meditated sex, to justify making the decision to stay safe.

Or you could do what I do. Lesbianism* is a great form of birth control.

*There are condoms and dams same-sex couples can and should use too; there are other reasons to have safe sex outside of preventing pregnancy. You know it, I know it, but I gotta say it…

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