Seven Years of Sex Ed

Spermicide, when used alone without a condom or a diaphragm, is only 73% effective in preventing pregnancy.

I know this without even looking it up because I had to memorize a table of birth control methods and their effectiveness for a quiz my sophomore year of high school (and again junior year, and again senior year). 

My public school system in New Jersey required sex education every single year of middle and high school. Seven years of sex ed. (And that’s not even counting the mortifying “our changing bodies” presentations in fourth and fifth grade where we got tiny sticks of deodorant afterward.)

My high school was so serious about sex ed, there was a fishbowl full of condoms in the nurse’s office. So serious, they showed the full Miracle of Life documentary in every single senior health class the week before prom. Three live births with close-ups of episiotomies, forceps, and crowning.

That same semester, a fellow student challenged the very Italian very, Catholic gym teacher assigned to our sex ed class: “But Mr. Marciano, I thought that Catholics weren’t supposed to use birth control.”

We all knew what he was really asking. The Pope was the Pope, but if Mr. Marciano said it was okay…

“I’m a good Catholic, right? You see me at Mass every Sunday?”

“Yeah, Mr. Marciano.”

“And I bring my kids. You’ve seen my kids at Mass?”

“Yeah, Mr. Marciano.”

“Here’s what I think about Catholics and birth control: I’ve got three kids, not twelve.”

All the birth control options at the top of that effectiveness chart I memorized in high school are the kind you can only get with a prescription. The kind you can only afford with health insurance.

And what good is education without access?

On July 8, the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s attack on the ACA’s contraception mandate with only Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor dissenting. Employers with religious or moral objections will not have to cover birth control through employee health benefits. Up to 126,000 women will lose access to birth control covered by their insurance.

Justices Kagan, Breyer, Roberts, Kavanaugh, Alito, Gorsuch, and Thomas filed majority or concurring opinions.

Combined, they have a total of twelve children.

Jenna B. Morgan is very busy writing and teaching and raising two tiny feminists just outside Nashville, Tennessee. Wine helps. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @byjennabmorgan.

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