Having the sex talk with your parents is awkward enough but what if your mom was, like, right there during your high school sex-ed class? And she described the whole thing to the world -- in graphic detail? And then got so mad at what she heard that she dropped an f-bomb on the instructor and got banned for life from campus. Triple-mortifying, right?
Not for Alice Dreger's 15-year-old son (a.k.a. The Kid). He not only invited his mom -- a Northwestern University medical school professor and author of a memoir about the battles between scientists and activists over things like intersex surgical "correction" surgery -- to sit in on his sex-ed class focused on abstinence on Wednesday. He was totally psyched when he found out she had live-blogged the whole thing.
"I thought about not going to the class because I knew him bringing me was a risky thing," Dreger told MTV News on Thursday (April 16), less than 24 hours after her must-read series of outraged tweets went global. "I think he wanted me to see it for myself because he felt really frustrated [about] abstinence and shame-based education."
Let's (Really) Talk About Sex
To be clear, Dreger, who has written openly and often about her own sexual history and exploration, said she and her husband have been very frank with their son about sex his whole life.
"My kid was atypically raised with sexual honesty," said Dreger, who has weighed in before on what she thinks is the lack of honesty in the sex-ed taught at her son's progressive school. "We explained sexual anatomy, showed him pictures, talked about pornography and about bad and good sex."
That's why what she heard on Wednesday kind of drove her nuts.
"I thought it would be mildly irritating, but it never occurred to me that my son would be referred to a political lobbying group and that there would be slut-shaming of girls and this ridiculous attitude that every time a condom breaks you’ll get pregnant," she said of the talk that was led by what she described as an outside group and not one of the school's instructors. MTV News reached out to East Lansing High for comment but we still hadn't heard from a spokesperson at press time.
Dreger said there were so many times during the class that she was tempted to raise her hand and interject, but instead she let her Twitter do the talking. "He was telling this story about 'the girl you want is the girl who says no,' " Dreger said of the class instructor.
"This guy was coming in and telling this ridiculous story about the roll of the dice and how every time you roll, 1/6 of the class gets pregnant, with no discussion of the opportunity of abortion, only condoms. And how if you do get pregnant you should be ashamed of yourself and you'll lose your friends."
Making His Momma Proud By Standing Up
While her son is totally fine with Dreger talking about (and blogging about) the experience, he was inspired to do more research on his own about abstinence education, which the federal government has poured more than $1.5 billion into for more than 30 years, peaking during the administration of George W. Bush.
"He did more research about abstinence education with his dad and he's going in today with more data and he said he would raise his hand and if they didn't call on him, he would keep his hand up all of class," she said. "He wanted me there because I think he was proud of standing up to them with the data and he wanted me to see that. It's a somewhat scary thing to do to challenge these people with the data and they just brushed him off and patronized him."
The F-Bomb That Got Her Banned
Though she held her tongue for the whole class, by the end Dreger said she just couldn't hold back. "I'm banned from class for saying f--k in front of children," she said. "I said to the principal that with all due respect, I think most of the kids in that class have heard f--k." So now, she's allowed to drop off and pick up and can attend parent-teacher conferences, but is not allowed in the building without checking in first.
Being banned is fine, but what makes her mad is that experts have argued that not teaching high schoolers the facts about sex could translate into an increased spread of STDs, with nearly 10 million infections affecting 15-24 year-olds every year.
If You're Gonna Do It, Do It Right
"Sex is pleasurable, and that's why we all seek it," Dreger said, noting that she was brought up in a strict Roman Catholic home and had an "abysmal" sex-ed experience as a teen. "If I taught [a class like this], that's what I would teach, but that's so far beyond the realm of what these people can teach about sex. That explains the rest of it: It's so freaking pleasurable that you don't think straight sometimes and you don't use protection. Everything that's complicated about relationships is about sex and we don't want to talk about that so we convince ourselves that that will convince kids."
Coming Soon: Classes At Mrs. Dreger's House?
Since she can only drop off her son now, Dreger said she's considering offering some home-schooling sex-ed classes of her own in light of what she saw on Wednesday. "I might offer an after-hours sex-ed thing for whatever kids wants to come," she said. "I'm not in the school district, so there's nothing that prevents me from doing that."
And, just in case you were wondering about The Kid...