Exgay movement pundit Warren Throckmorton protests sex-ed literature that was allegedly distributed at Brookline High School on April 30 at an event hosted by GLSEN Boston.
Throckmorton calls the literature “pornography” — and it’s not difficult to see why he would call it that: Excerpts from the booklet Little Black Book: Queer in the 21st Century contain pictures of penises — some exposed for artistic purposes, some to demonstrate the application of a condom.
While I have some serious disagreements with this booklet (I will get to that in a moment), I don’t have a problem with explicit pictures and frank language in sex-ed literature for adolescent and post-adolescent males:
- Sex is, after all, the topic.
- The pictures do not portray sex acts.
- Healthy sexual development and smart decisionmaking requires that men become comfortable with the sight of their bodies.
- Here’s a dirty secret: Even Christians use the f word to describe intercourse. Some male Christians even use a sexist c word to describe “vagina.” So the frequent use of a b word to describe the anus is, quite simply, an honest use of the common language in a context that is, by definition, adult and sexual. Should sex-ed literature promote respectful language? Absolutely. But not exclusively, given the topic and the audience. Sex-ed experts seem to agree that frank language is sometimes more effective at promoting healthy behavior than polite or clinical language.
I also object to a misrepresentation made by Throckmorton.
He complains, “Contrary to public health warnings about the dangers of risky sexual behaviors, this booklet glorifies the riskiest of behaviors and then suggests that the students get tested for STDs every three to six months.” But that claim is not reflected in the booklet’s content. The booklet clearly spells out the risks of dangerous sexual behaviors — without burying the dangers in encyclopedic statistics.
All that being said, I am disturbed by the booklet’s insults against abstinence; its treatment of boyfriends as mere sex objects, perhaps picked up in a park; its failure to acknowledge any ethical decisionmaking; and its promotion — among minors — of bars as an alternative
the only social outlet besides Internet chat rooms.
So, Throckmorton’s objections are not without some merit.[Addendum: The antigay web site that is hosting pictures of the booklet has only posted a few out-of-context pages that depict explicit photos and portray sex-ed educators as encouraging youth to explore bars and to use condoms when having sex. If the booklet details specific STDs; cautionary or ethical considerations to think about; or social alternatives to bars and Internet chat rooms, then the antigay web site is not sharing them with its readers.]
Unfortunately, Throckmorton misleads as often as he leads. According to Throckmorton’s press release, “These descriptions of bars suggest where adults can pick up minors for illegal sexual encounters.”
That is not what the booklet suggests; it (unwisely) recommends bars as a place to socialize. Assuming these bars are legally operated, these bars card and reject minors at the door. (I’ve always been carded at bars, on the rare occasions when I go to one.)
For reasons that he does not explain, Throckmorton seems less concerned about underage alcoholism than the imagined danger of minors being molested at bars by gay adults, whom he seems to assume are pedophiles.
(Hat tip: QueerDay)