When it comes to sex ed, some Wisconsin teachers are officially screwed. The state requires them to teach about contraception, but Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth has proclaimed that if any of them do, he’ll press charges.
Leslie Madsen-Brooks covers the issue at BlogHer: “Southworth believes classroom discussion of how to properly use contraceptives will lead not only to sexual activity between minors, but sexual assault on minors.”
She links a letter to school districts in Juneau County, where Southworth makes the following statement:
The teacher need not be deliberately encourage [sic] the illegal behavior: he or she only need be aware that his or her instruction is “practically certain” to cause the child to engage in the illegal act. Moreover, the teacher could be charged with this crime even if the child does not actually engage in the criminal behavior. Depending on the nature of the child’s behavior, the teacher could face either misdemeanor or felony charges with maximum punishments ranging from 9 months of jail up to six years of prison.
Can we get a WTF?
Madsen-Brooks offers some hard data:
It’s preposterous that teachers would reasonably believe that instruction on contraception could lead to sexual assault. According to data from the University of Wisconsin Health Institute, Juneau County’s teen birth rate is approximately 25 percent higher than the state average, and the county ranks 62 out of 72 Wisconsin counties in the Institute’s health behaviors index (which includes such data as chlamydia infection rates, smoking rates, smoking during pregnancy, binge drinking and the teen birth rate). Clearly, this is a county where young people need some instruction on health.
She raises a good point: a district attorney holds incredible power, and while generally elected, most voters tend to have no idea who their D.A. is. This is a big issue. Read her post to find resources and learn about your own D.A.
Information from BlogHer.