Full disclosure: I have a hard-on for Bristol Palin - and I don't mean the good kind. If you've read anything I've written, this isn't a huge surprise. Yesterday morning I woke up to Bristol spewing messages of abstinence on the morning news shows. On The Today Show, she talked to Matt Lauer while she sat next to her father and rocked her baby. (Levi wasn't there. Big surprise.) On GMA, she talked to Chris Cuomo, alone.
Why, you ask, was Bristol all over the media? Because she is the official teen ambassador for The Candie's Foundation, an organization that advocates for the prevention of teen pregnancy. Worthwhile cause? Absolutely. Good choice in teen advocate? You have got to be kidding.
About seven years ago, I met with the Candie's Foundation to talk about potential partnerships. It's not as if I don't support their cause. I do, wholeheartedly. But the news of Bristol Palin becoming the voice of reasonable sexuality education is all too much for me to handle. So now, I can add Neil Cole (founder of the Candie's Foundation and CEO of Candie's) to my WTF list.
Neil, since when has abstinence been the only realistic option for teens?
Neil, hasn't research shown that abstinence only sexuality education is ineffective, often biased, and medically inaccurate?
Neil, isn't putting a teen mother who has yet to practice what she (or her mother) preaches simply hypocritical?
Neil, do we honestly think that if Bristol were involved in a new relationship that she would practice abstinence indefinitely?
Perhaps we don't remember that only a few months ago, Bristol Palin told Greta Van Susteren that teen abstinence was "unrealistic." I remember it, because I watched her say it. So the fact that she is now getting paid to wave the abstinence flag is appalling.
There is no question that for many teens, abstinence is the best option. However, there are plenty of adolescents who make smart decisions about sex; there are plenty of adults who make poor ones.
Nonetheless, instead of insisting on abstinence, how about teaching teens how to evaluate decisions about sex, how to negotiate with their partners, how to communicate with their parents about sex and relationships, and how to protect themselves if they choose to engage in sexual behaviors? These missions make sense to me. Hiring a pseudo-celebrity who has been hypocritical and inconsistent in her messaging about sex does not.
The Candie's Foundation blew it this time. This is not the way to get teens to join the cause.
However, on a positive note, President Obama announced his 2010 proposed budget, and unlike Bristol Palin, he is supporting comprehensive, evidence-based sexuality education!