Letters: "Abstinence is not the problem. Abstinence-only education is the problem."

"Forbidden Fruit," Andy Kopsa, August 11

Sex Marks the Spot

When we were kids, we were taught not to touch the stove when it was hot or we would get burned. We were taught not to put a fork in the electric outlet or we would get shocked. We were taught to avoid things that hurt us physically. Sex feels good, and it really is that simple.

The only "talk" I ever received from my parents was after my sister got pregnant at seventeen, right before her senior year of high school. It consisted of my mom telling me, "Don't have sex, and if you do, use a condom." So at nineteen, when that condom broke, I got pregnant and decided to give my baby up for adoption. My parents were furious with my decision. They couldn't understand how I could give up something I created, even though I know I gave him a better life through my decision.


Abstinence-only education

My little brother is now seventeen, and I have had "the talk" with him several times, though we haven't lived in the same city for the past three years. Now, over 1,100 miles away, I still talk to him about sex. He's seventeen — of course he is curious and experimenting! But I know that he is being safe because of what he learned through his older sisters' experiences, and because of the talks I have had with him.

Abstinence-only education is not the answer. Abstinence-only education makes kids afraid of their parents' reaction. If kids were given advice on how to protect themselves, I truly believe we would see fewer teen pregnancies and fewer cases of STDs among teens. Instead, they are told from the beginning that the only solution is abstinence. When they do have sex, they are not properly educated on other ways to protect themselves. My own pregnancy could have been prevented had my mom talked with me more and had I gotten on some form of reliable birth control. Abstinence is not the problem. Abstinence-only education is the problem.

Meagan Simmons Lakewood

Thanks to Andy Kopsa for her excellent research and reporting in "Forbidden Fruit." I'm appalled that WAIT Training finagled its way into Colorado public schools, especially with federal taxpayer funds. Kopsa did a wonderful job of highlighting the dangers of these types of abstinence-only programs for LGBQT kids' well-being and sense of safety at school. With its offensive gender-stereotype-reinforcing rhetoric, WAIT Training not only harms LGBQT students, but all students by teaching them that boys compartmentalize sex apart from the rest of their lives and don't have true feelings about their sexuality and that girls become less clean and that their ability to bond with lovers becomes further impaired each time they have sex with a new partner. The irony is that feminism paved the way from the kitchen to careers for women like Peggy Littleton and Joneen Mackenzie. What a shame to see them utilizing that freedom to send us right back to where we were before.

Thank you for your part in educating your readers about WAIT Training and similar abstinence-only programs. That education is the first step in combating their harmful impact on our youth.

Rachel Eisenstat


Andy Kopsa writes: "That money is now paying for abstinence programs to go to public school auditoriums, training conferences, churches and community centers throughout Colorado, spreading the message that abstinence-only-until-marriage is the only way to have disease-free, worthwhile sex." That is the simple truth. What could possibly be bad with that? The fact that some kids won't get the message? And our answer should be, "Teach them to be promiscuous"? That's just like stopping testing them for math skills because too many fail. The problems we face in this country are mostly caused by our moral decline. Any and every way we can stop and even reverse that decline is good for our country's future.

Bob Baker

Posted at westword.com

Editor's note: For many, many more comments on Andy Kopsa's "Forbidden Fruit," as well as video of a WAIT Training program, go to westword.com.

"Illboard," Jenny An, August 4

No Sugar Coating

I had to write in response to Yvonne Barcewski's August 11 letter about "Illboard." Here's why: 

First, she says the article lacked proper research of the emotional effect of type 1 diabetes and was written with the information from a "diabetic who has never resolved those issues." Who does she think she is? Who can ever resolve the emotional issues that this terrible disease causes? This poor guy has had to live his whole life with this monkey on his back. Can anyone even imagine what it was like for him growing up? And to assume that every diabetic needs to resolve their emotional issues about their disease or they are not managing it properly is crazy. What makes diabetes so terrible is that along with high blood sugar, it gives you emotional high blood sugar, too  This disease carries so much baggage and stigma still, is there any wonder that many diabetics are also depressed or suffer from "emotional problems"? 

 Second, because her claim that she reversed her diabetes, making type 2 curable, is false. It is a chronic and incurable disease. You may be able to manage it and get rid of symptoms in the early stages like she did, but once it is onset, it is very rare to cure. And try telling that to Brian Bradley.  If it's so easy to cure, why do people have it? My mother (who is not an artist) has had type 2 for twenty years. She is a nurse. She does everything she can afford to do to manage it. But it has taken over her life and mine, too, because I am her caretaker. You just can't magically cure this demon. 

And lastly, this woman says that using Bradley as "a poster boy for this issue is just plain wrong." Well, that comment sounds like it's coming from someone who doesn't read Westword very often. If she did, she would know that your story on him was less about him being the "poster boy" for diabetes and more about the fact that we have a shitty health-care system. It was also more of a story about how one person deals with his life as a diabetic and uses his art as an outlet. 

Carmen Anderson


"Guitar Goddess," Bree Davis, August 4

In Tune

I'm glad to hear that Guitar Center is taking notice. More and more girls and women want to learn to play guitar. It's only the smart thing to do.

Arina Sizemore

Auburn, Washington


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