Amanda Marcotte at Slate:
When you’re on the high school speech-and-debate team in rural West Texas, you spend a lot of time on weekends napping in school buses in front of other small-town high schools. For me, one of those was Crane High School, where I wiled away many hours playing card games while waiting for my round. From San Antonio Express-News:
Officials with the Crane Independent School District are meeting to discuss their sex education program after nearly two dozen cases of Chlamydia were reported among the high school student body.
KOSA-TV reported the Crane Independent School District sent a letter to parents last week regarding 20 cases of chlamydia among the Crane High School student population, which totals about 300 students.
News West 9 spoke with some parents in the area who expressed shock and horror at the situation. “I mean I have a kid, honestly I don’t want my kid growing up in an area where nasty stuff like that happens,” Edward Martinez told the station.
People often express shock when things like this happen, but having grown up in the area, this is literally the least surprising thing ever to me. The combination of a repressive culture and a small population where everyone is up in everyone else’s business all the time makes it hard for people— especially teenagers—to take necessary precautions against disease transmission: getting tested, communicating openly with partners, obtaining condoms.
The area’s repressive attitudes toward sex are illustrated in the school’s sex education program, which takes up three days in the fall semester and, of course, is focused on abstinence. Raw Story reports that in 2012, the School Health Advisory Committee recommended a program titled Worth the Wait for that three-day course; the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States pointed out that Worth the Wait discourages condom use by suggesting they’re just going to fail you anyway.
What a bunch of dumb ass redneck bible-thumping holy rollers!
Only one problem. It isn’t true.
A previously reported group of chlamydia cases at a West Texas high school is much smaller than initially thought, according to the state health department.
Reports of 20 confirmed cases among the 300 or so students at Crane High School drew national headlines this week and were largely based on comments and a letter sent by the small school district’s superintendent. On Thursday, a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of State Health Services said there have only been three confirmed cases in the county and those were not necessarily students.
This is kinda like the Rolling Stone Rape Hoax. A story that was too good to check went viral because the media failed to do basic journalism. John Cole over at Buffoon Juice fell for it too.
That’s because the lie matched a preferred narrative – religious conservatives are ignorant and stupid.
Will all the media outlets that reported the story publish retractions? Or will they just let the lie stand?
I’m not holding my breath.
Money quote from Marcotte:
While the future of sex ed in Crane is up in the air, there is one thing I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt: The rumor mill at this high school is churning about who infected who, and where, and when.
I’m sure everybody is having a good laugh now.