by Pablo Moulden
During my sophomore year at James Madison High School (Fairfax County), we watched a video in my sex education class where they compared people who sleep with multiple sex partners to a piece of chewed gum. Two years later I was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 17, just months away from graduation. I have since come out and served as an HIV positive speaker for the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry and NovaSalud (two HIV services, education and prevention nonprofits in NOVA). Having spoken in 17 different schools across Northern Virginia, and having presented over 60 times to over 1,500 middle and high school students and faculty, I know that we need our teachers to be armed with a medically accurate sexual health education curriculum. The teachers want our children to have a comprehensive sex education. The students are engaging, they’re listening and they care about their sexual health. All the kids need is for the General Assembly to deliver.
We need to pass HB 159 through the Virginia House of Delegates. This bill, introduced by Delegate Rasoul, would require sex education to be medically accurate and mandate that it be taught in every Virginia public school. This bill has the potential to save thousands of lives and billions of our tax dollars. Too many tax dollars are being spent on treating the problem rather than preventing it in the first place. Not only is education the best method of preventing unwanted pregnancies and STD infections (including HIV) but it is also much cheaper than spending money on services to assist those who suffer from problems caused by uninformed decisions (e.g. improper and/or inconsistent use of safe sex practices).
A medically accurate sex education curriculum not only informs students, but it also results in the equally, if not more, important goal of teaching kids to be comfortable talking about sex with their partners. Our children are not responsive to being told that they are like a piece of chewed gum if they have sex with more than one person. They avoid talking about sex due to fear of being called a slut. Medically accurate sex education ensures kids understand that they do not have to have sex nor do they have to avoid it. Instead they need to learn how to know when they’re ready to have sex (if ever), how to protect themselves IF they ever choose to have sex, and how to say no to sex if they are not ready (consent).
My HIV diagnosis at the age of 17 is a product of Virginia’s woefully inadequate and medically inaccurate sex education. Our children shouldn’t have to learn the hard lesson that I learned in the hospital when I received my HIV diagnoses. If the Virginia General Assembly passes HB 159 and mandates a comprehensive, sex-positive curriculum, our children will learn these lessons in the classroom instead.
Now is the time to vote not simply for a Virginia that is for lovers, but for a Virginia that is for educated lovers who know how to love safely. To vote for a Virginia where all youth reach their full potential and become contributing members of our communities, unfettered by tragedy stemming from uninformed honest mistakes. Today is the time to vote for medically accurate sex education.
My name is Pablo Moulden and I am a 26 year old Virginian who’s been living with HIV for 9 years. I stand for lifesaving medically accurate sexual health education. What do you stand for?
If you want HB 159 passed through the House Education Committee and the House of Delegates then please either spend two minutes calling your legislator or come down with us tomorrow, Monday, February 5th, to tell the subcommittee enough is enough. We want sex education reform now. Check out www.apositivevoice.com/sex-education-reform and join the Virginia Sex Ed Reform Bill (HB 159) | Rapid Response Team for more information.