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Hey parents, masturbation isn't pornography

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Comprehensive sex education isn't porn, either

Sex education is tricky. I say we should err on the side of TMI.

In my public high school sex education class (Texas, obviously, once you hear the story), the teacher held out a beautiful red rose at the front of the classroom, and compared it to a virgin. He then passed the virgin flower around the room, and asked everyone to pluck a petal, to represent each time the deflowered flower had sex with a new partner. At the end of the session, the teacher held up the battered rose and asked, "Who do you want in your marriage someday — a beautiful red rose or this sad stem?"

Horrible abuse of power aside, this was not an example of sex education. Not at all. It was weird, and it was about flowers. Heaven forbid we actually teach teens about real se — even though they're probably already doing it or will be within a few years. Real sex, parents, includes a frank discussion about orgasms, vaginas, masturbation, genital warts and many other topics that aren't great for dinner conversation. Maybe even bondage and oral sex. It's real. Flower illustrations aren't real, and it's time to get real with our teens so they'll actually be prepared for their adulthood (the point of education).

Of course, educators can't push for real sex education without parents getting up in arms. In California, a comprehensive sex education book (gasp!) was recently pulled from the shelves of a public high school due to a petition by parents. The parents have called the book pornographic. Its sins? Anatomically correct illustrations, information about hook-ups, birth control information and details about sexual expression — including masturbation and same-sex attraction. Apparently all these details are just too much for parents of teens, regardless of the fact that an internal survey of this high school's students found that many of its freshmen are already sexually active. Facts — how annoying.

Parents, I understand that you don't want to think about your teenager having sex. My daughter is only 3, but I don't want her to get started as a teen, either. We're going about this wrong, though. Withholding comprehensive sex education from our kids only hikes up the rate of unintended pregnancies, disease and shame.

If I have to choose, I prefer my daughter learn about oral sex in the classroom, rather than be compared to a virginal rose.

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