Letter: Plan B — An apology to Janice Marzano, and the eighth graders in her letter
To the Editor:
My name is Claire Borecki. You might recognize me from my own history as an intern and contributor to the Darien Times over the last two years. I graduated from Darien High School with Honors in 2017, after attending Darien Public Schools from K-12. I was the stage manager for Theatre 308, a three-year participant of the Authentic Science Research program, worked as a tutor for Darien Mathnasium and the Darien High School National Honor Society, participated in the Girl Scouts, and spent my summers volunteering and working at a local law firm.
Before I graduated from DHS, I also took Plan B. It was a lonely experience. I shoved the box under my trash in an attempt to hide it from my family, and I swallowed the pill without much knowledge of how it worked, or how it would affect me. I can only imagine how much better it would’ve been to feel informed and as though I had members of the community I respected supporting me. I applaud Janice Marzano for making an attempt to support the education of young girls in our community, and it upsets me that political squabbles over Planned Parenthood have stalled her.
During my times at Darien High School, I did not receive a single hour of formal sex education. My sex educators were my peers. As I look back, I can hardly exaggerate the gratitude I feel for other girls—who I often didn’t know—who would explain the side effects of Plan B, or teach me about more primary forms of birth control. I received ¼ of a semester of sex education in eighth grade, but from my recollection it contained anatomy lessons and a condom — banana-style demonstration — no birth control.
Marzano truly has her finger on the pulse of Darien’s youth, and if she has picked up on this problem, her talks should be going forward, and Darien parents should be applauding her efforts. What has disturbed Darien parents the most in these letters are probably Marzano’s claims that girls as young as eighth grade are using Plan B multiple times a month. I find it absurd that this has spurred criticism rather than immediate action.
If an eighth grader is using plan B on a regular basis, that is a failure in her education. Plan B is a secondary, emergency form of birth control; if someone is using it multiple times a month, she is using it as a primary source of birth control rather than a secondary one. It is likely that no one has every taught her about birth control, or more importantly, how to acquire it. It is just as likely that she lives within a community of adults where talking about such a topic is taboo. My heart goes out to these girls most strongly when I think of the boys they are sleeping with. Has no one taught these boys about their role in safe sex? Or has no one taught these girls to be confident enough to insist on safe sex, and to walk away from the boys who won’t listen?
To the eighth grader or graders Marzano has mentioned, I would like to submit a formal apology. I am sorry that the community that has raised both you and the boy you are sleeping with has failed you. I am sorry that you do not know that Plan B should not be a primary source of birth control, and that you do not have the information to find primary birth control. I am sorry that the adults around you have not created an environment where you feel comfortable and able to acquire this information. I am sorry that the boy you are sleeping with has obviously not been educated, and has not received the message that he is just as responsible for safe sex as you.
I hope that one day we will have an education system that provides you with practical knowledge. I hope that we will one day have a community that does not reject, shame or politicize your needs and questions.
I also urge you to wait. Not until marriage. Not even until college. Not to guard your purity, or fulfill some other antiquated ideal of female sexuality I can only hope our society has moved on from. Wait until you have the self-respect and confidence to take care of your body and to know what you want. Wait until you can call a doctor, or talk to your parents (even if it’s hard, or awkward), because you know that’s what’s best for you. Wait until you can find a boy who knows what safe sex means, and who respects you enough to listen when you insist on it.
I didn’t wait for that person. And I think if I had been raised in a different environment, I would not be regretting that today.
So this is my appeal to Janice Marzano, parents, and the Darien Public School system. Educate the kids- more than you think they need. Educate them even if you are threatened, delayed, or judged.The community can have a debate over planned parenthood and abortion rights. But that debate should never infringe on the safety of our children.
Most importantly, we need to teach girls confidence and self-respect. Shame and secrecy will never help them. I was lucky in high school, but we don’t want our young people to be lucky. We want them to be happy, and we want them to be safe.
(I think it’s also important to note here that there are some inaccurate representations of Plan B in pop culture, like TV shows, that often reach young people. Plan B is not an “abortion pill;” it cannot stop the development of a fertilized egg that has attached to the womb. It prevents; it cannot “undo.”)
Claire Borecki is a freshman at Colby College in Waterville, ME, where she is a staff writer for the Colby Echo. She is majoring in Global Studies with an Economic Policy concentration and an English minor. As a student at Darien High School, she did her senior internship at the Darien Times. She graduated from Darien High School in 2017.