Quick Question: What’s a Rainbow Party?

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…That’s like Rainbow Parties. My parents were so freaked out about those and I was like I wish I was invited to a Rainbow Party you know? Like you get to wear burgundy lipstick or something and give a guy head in a cool den.

Rainbow parties first came into wide public awareness in the early 2000s after several frantic media reports about the phenomenon, including pediatrician Meg Meeker’s 2002 book Epidemic: How Teen Sex Is Killing Our Kids, a widely publicized episode of Oprah, and the publication of the YA book Rainbow Party by Paul Ruditis. In a New York Times article from the time, the parties are described as:

…group oral sex parties in which each girl wears a different shade of lipstick, and each guy tries to emerge sporting every one of the various colors.

Whether or not rainbow parties are real has been an ongoing debate for a while. Most experts believe it’s an overblown urban legend without any basis in real teen behavior. Sociology professor Kathleen A. Bogle examines the media coverage around rainbow parties and other teen sex panics in her book Kids Gone Wild, and spoke about the validity of the legend in an interview with Salon.

Sex Education in Florida

As we discover more about the setting of Dry Land and what being a teen in Florida is like, one of the things that’s come up is the state’s sex ed curriculum — what kind of information might teens like Amy and Ester receive about sex in school?

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According to the Guttmacher Institute, Florida is currently one of 28 states in the US that does not mandate sexual or reproductive health education be taught in school. Most high school students must receive one-half credit in “life management skills” in either ninth or tenth grade in order to graduate, but there are no requirements or standards for the course content.

When sex ed is taught in Florida schools, it must be age appropriate, but there is no requirement that it be medically and scientifically accurate. The state also requires that instructors stress abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students, as well as cover negative outcomes of teen sex.

A 2007 study by the University of Florida assessing state sex ed practices in middle and high schools found that students received inconsistent instruction with a wide range of accuracy:

“What we found was quite concerning, particularly in light of the fact that levels of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies continue to rise in Florida and the state ranks second in the nation in terms of annual incident HIV infections,” said lead investigator Brian Dodge, formerly of the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions.

The researchers found regional differences in program content in Florida’s public schools. Teachers in North Florida were twice as likely as teachers in Central Florida and three times as likely as those in South Florida to teach an abstinence-only curriculum, which typically does not cover the risks and benefits of contraceptives, said research team member Frank Bandiera, a graduate of UF’s Master of Public Health program and a doctoral student in epidemiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“Most people are aware that there are major cultural differences between, say, Miami and Tallahassee,” Bandiera said. “What we found in terms of sex education, though, is that these places may as well be on different planets.”

“More than half of sex educators used a ‘locally developed curriculum,’” Dodge said. “In reality this could be anything. Respondents to our survey reported using everything from formal state guidelines to random Internet information and outdated county curricula. In short, there appears to be no uniformity in terms of underlying value systems or philosophical foundations for sex education in Florida.”

It sounds like Florida teens might need some https://www.youtube.com/embed/L0jQz6jqQS0” target=”_blank”>help from John Oliver: