“Everybody’s Doing It” exposes abstinence controversy

On Thursday, April 21, a small group of Lawrence University students from all around campus gathered in Kohler Hall to watch and discuss “Everybody’s Doing It,” a comedic parody movie about abstinence-only sex education in high school. The event was hosted by GlobeMed and was a part of the Sexual Health Week at LU event series.

Sexual Health Week is comprised of presentations, concerts and activities meant to help students stay healthy, safe and happy. Some scheduled events included a Concert for Consent, Panel on Reproductive Rights and Bystander Intervention Training. This year, students and administrators have increased efforts to make sure all students know how to respond in uncomfortable situations and understand how their actions impact others.

“Everybody’s Doing It” was shown as part of GlobeMed’s “DocuToppers” movie series, where they invite students to enjoy free pizza and watch an informative movie in a casual setting twice per academic term. This movie from 2002 centers around a high school couple and their fight against an abstinence pledge program sweeping through their school.

The film deals with themes of peer pressure and personal identity. Although its highly-exaggerated, surreal characters and storyline reminded us that it was a comedy at its core, “Everybody’s Doing It” examines ideas which affect young people all over the country. Like the students in the movie, many teens have questions about sex, and it is important that they have educational resources available. The movie demonstrates how having the courage to stick up for oneself can change everything.

During the post-viewing discussion facilitated by sophomore Bhavana Suvarna, we learned that over 25 states receive Title V federal funding for abstinence-only programs. Students in these states may receive incomplete or distorted information about the nature of sex and human development. We discussed our own schools’ programs, which ones worked well and why they did so. We also discussed families’ roles in out-of-school education.

Some people took issue with the way the movie portrayed the characters—that they were too easily influenced by peers or they did not represent all sides of a conflict. Others thought that the positive messages were not strong enough or were not stated explicitly enough so that younger viewers would understand.

Although “Everybody’s Doing It” may have been intended for a younger audience, it contains important messages that aligned with the Sexual Health Week theme. All who visited the Kohler Hall lounge that night enjoyed good company and thought-provoking dialogue. Anyone who wishes to learn more is recommended to attend one of GlobeMed’s weekly meetings.