Have you ever seen the 2003 Lifetime television movie classic She’s Too Young? You know, the movie you had to watch in health class about the gonorrhea epidemic at a high school, featuring Academy Award-winner Marcia Gay Harden and the bug-eyed girl who dated E on Entourage? But anyway. Life imitated high art in the small town of Crane, Texas, recently, when local station NewsWest9 reported that a chlamydia outbreak at Crane High School had led to one in 15 students being diagnosed with the sexually transmitted infection.
The kicker? Crane High School has an abstinence-only sex ed curriculum. Why don’t you tell us again how telling teens not to have sex will lead to them not having sex, abstinence-only advocates? We’d love to hear more about it.
According to KOSA-TV, Crane High School officials sent a letter to parents informing them of the epidemic after they received an alert from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Twenty Crane students have reportedly contracted the STI—a pretty huge percentage, considering that Crane only has about 300 high school students. But in light of the fact that Crane High School only offers three days of abstinence-only sex education per year, the high rate of transmission is not quite as shocking.
Fortunately, chlamydia is a treatable STI (though if left untreated, it can cause permanent damage in a woman’s reproductive system). Also fortunately, the incident seems to have prompted the school board to reevaluate the curriculum’s emphasis on abstinence-only education: They’re holding a meeting May 19.
But even though the school might have learned its lesson about abstinence-only sex education—i.e., that it’s dumb, bad, and wrong—it’ll likely be difficult for the affected Crane High School students to overcome the stigma associated with having an STI. Jokes about Crane High School’s high STI rate have popped up on forums like Yik Yak and the Twitter account Texas Confessions.
To a certain extent, that’s to be expected—teens aren’t known for their sensitivity to such matters, after all—but had the school been more pragmatic about dispensing real-world sexual health information and less concerned about keeping kids’ hands off each other, it’s possible this whole messy situation could’ve been avoided entirely.
H/T KOSA-TV | Photo via Crane High School/Facebook