Oh, Texas. We laugh because we’re trying so hard not to cry.
Actually, I don’t have any laugh left in me.
The situation in Austin has devolved to the point that the only thing keeping me from crying is the white hot rage burning through me* as I am forced to confront the fact, over and over, that reckless, bloviating know-nothings are in charge of the future of our state.
Here’s the Texas Observer on part of yesterday’s debate over the budget in the House of Representatives:
Texas has the third highest rate of HIV infections in the country, but that didn’t stop lawmakers from passing an amendment that defunds HIV/STD prevention programs Tuesday. The amendment to the House budget proposal—offered by Rep. Stuart Spitzer (R-Kaufman)—diverts $3 million over the next biennium to abstinence-only sexual education programs.
House Democrats fought against the amendment in a debate that rapidly devolved into awkward farce, with Rep. Spitzer revealing details of his own sexual history as proof of the effectiveness of abstinence. For those keeping tabs at home, he was a virgin until marrying his wife at age 29, although he declined to answer a question from Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) on whether she was the first person he propositioned. “Decorum,” shouted state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs).
Setting aside how you feel about Rep. Spitzer’s virginity, his claim that it proves “abstinence works” makes two very important points that, if logic were part of the equation, would have totally undermined his budgetary diversion from HIV education to abstinence-only not-really-sex education programs.
(1) You may be a virgin, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you abstain from all sexual activity. Depending upon how you define virginity, you can absolutely still be at risk for sexually transmitted infections.
(2) Even if you do not engage in any sexual contact, there are other ways to contract HIV that will not be mentioned in an abstinence-only sex (mis)education class, so remaining a virgin until you marry at 29 does not in any way guarantee you will not expose yourself to HIV.
This may be as good a time as any to remind you that Rep. Spitzer is actually also Dr. Spitzer.
As in Stuart Spitzer, M.D.
As in, he’s got a medical degree that strongly suggests he should really fucking know better.
I wish Rep. Dutton, or someone else, had questioned Rep. Spitzer about exactly how he defines virginity. A fairly standard working definition many people use is that virginity is abstaining from penetrating a vagina with a penis. You can find that definition on a website called Biblical Truths, for example, and you can read about the consequences of that narrow definition in peer-reviewed scientific research; namely, that teens engage in all sorts of higher-risk sexual behavior, like anal and oral sex, so they can claim to be virgins in a technical sense.
There are many ways you can contract a sexually transmitted infection, from gonorrhea to HIV, without having any vaginal penetration by any penis. And there are some infections that can be transmitted sexually, like HIV or Hepatitis A, B, or C, which you can also get even if you never, ever, ever have sex. Even if you are wearing clothes the whole time.
Rep. Spitzer, abstaining from putting your penis in a vagina until you are married does not protect you, necessarily, from a whole host of problems.
And let me assure you, your preference and experience are not typical in this great big ol’ state. Trust me.
At what point will performers announce they are not touring in Texas because they can’t risk exposure, for themselves or their roadies, to shamefully high rates of STI and HIV infection, or to impregnating people who don’t understand the basics of birth control or reproductive anatomy because all they were taught in school was just say no.
At what point will large corporations say that they cannot ask employees to move to a state in which those employees’ children will be taught misleading pseudo-science—instead of age-appropriate, medically-accurate facts about sexual health—that includes fire and brimstone warnings about damnation from “deviant” sexuality, which is any sexuality that takes place outside a heterosexual Christian marriage with penis-in-vagina sex?
Do not be fooled. Abstinence-only programs are not kind and not truthful when it comes to people who do not plan to engage, one day, after man+woman marriage, in penis-in-vagina sex.
Oh Texas, we have got to stop this madness. It is killing us. Are we going to have go all people’s filibuster on this budget?
*I have received extensive age-appropriate, medically-accurate information about healthy sexuality, so I know that the white hot burning I feel *is* rage and not something that needs to be treated with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. If Rep. Spitzer has any white hot burning sensations, he should get them checked out.