Last weekend, Las Vegas Metro Police co-sponsored an event aimed at young girls with the red-flag name “Choose Purity.” As the Las Vegas Sun reported, the event hammered home one very straightforward message: Premarital sex can lead to a life of drugs and prostitution and can even land you inside of a body bag.
Event organizer Officer Regina Coward and other Bolden Area Command officers teamed up with Coward’s church, Victory Outreach, to speak—in uniform—about the disastrous spiral of doom and destruction girls and women can fall into if they have sex before tying the knot. Two girls also acted out skits from “The Toe Tag Monologues” (not to be confused with the Vagina Monologues), a production often performed for high school students and at juvenile detention facilities. Each skit concluded with a girl literally climbing onto a gurney and into a body bag.
“This education was based on fear and shame,” says Annette Magnus, a former reproductive justice worker and the current executive director of ProgressNow, a nonprofit focused on progressive ideas. “They were shaming girls into thinking that if they have premarital sex, something like this is going to happen, [but] we know that 95 percent of young people will have premarital sex. The vast majority of young people will never experience those things … The vast majority of folks do not engage in prostitution.”
Magnus’ stats come from a study by the pro-choice nonprofit Guttmacher Institute based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth conducted between 1982 and 2002. The study concluded that by age 20, 75 percent of respondents had engaged in premarital sex and that before marriage, 95 percent of people will have had sex. Preaching abstinence until marriage also “erases the needs and experiences of LGBTQ youth who are unable to legally marry in Nevada,” said the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada in a statement on Monday.
While most abstinence-only events stress teen pregnancy and STDs—two very real risks—Coward’s above-and-beyond approach was part of crime prevention, according to what Coward told the Sun. (Requests for comment by Metro from the Weekly were not returned.)
However, there’s no statistical evidence tying premarital sex to drug abuse or prostitution, and most people who have premarital sex don’t end up making meth in RVs à la Breaking Bad. Actually, all of that dirty, unwed sex we’ve been having might help us achieve healthier, more fulfilled relationships down the road—married or not.
Magnus says non-abstinence-only education can actually curb premarital sex more effectively. “Studies show that by giving young people medically accurate, age-appropriate information, that is what actually delays their sexual activity,” Magnus says. Real, fact-based sex education works better than fearmongering—who would’ve thought?
PLAN has called on Metro to partner with Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada for the department’s next co-sponsored event aimed at boys, “Choose Courage.”