Once upon a time, there was a country named Thailand.

And in the 80’s, Thailand found out it had a problem…

In 1984, the first case of AIDS was reported in Thailand, and with the abundance of sex trafficking across the Thai border and a lack of information about the disease, the country was rife for an epidemic.

BUT INSTEAD, the Thais got creative.

Condoms became an advertising campaign.  You could get them with your coffee, at the grocery store, at school, from traveling health groups, and pretty much anywhere else you turned.  There were condom balloon-blowing competitions held as school fundraisers, a Harvard MBA turned superhero-icon spokesperson known as “Condom Boy,” and even t-shirts with condoms in the shape of the olympic logo with the slogan, “Weapons of Mass Protection.”

And from this, something really awesome happened.  Not only was a serious epidemic averted, but a new idea for sex education was born- one that didn’t shy away from touchy subjects or try to gloss over serious issues.  Which is why I think this exhibit at the National Science Museum of Thailand is freakin’ fantastic.

“Teenage boys gape at a coloured photograph of a vagina, while girls give embarrassed smiles as they watch a cartoon that showed penises ‘talking’ about masturbation. Young girls crowd around a display panel about love and relationships, as a boy embraces a female mannequin with all his might in order to measure the strength of his hug. “

By embracing the various conceptions of sex, rather than avoiding it or censoring specific kinds of sex (see Rubin’s “The Charmed Circle” ), kids can better understand sexuality and make healthier decisions about their own practices.

And it hasn’t stopped with just this exhibit.  Thai sex ed in general is getting more and more progressive.  Anothergreat article about engaging students in honest dialogue about sex is available here:  http://ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=13448

So my question is, why is it so impossible to get this kind of forthright and legitimate education here in the supposedly more developed and socially responsible United States?