Some people are questioning the choice to sell stuffed sexually transmitted disease toys at a Salt Lake City tourist attraction. ABC 4 News reported that the toys, made by the company GiantMicrobes, are being sold in the gift shop at the Clark Planetarium.
The stuffed toys represent different molecules that make up various diseases. Specifically, the planetarium is selling plush toy chlamydia, gonorrhea and human papillomavirus microbes to customers of all ages.
The news outlet reported that some visitors have had a negative reaction to the toys. However, experts often recommend that parents include information about both the emotional and physical consequences of being sexually active, such as the risk of pregnancy and STDs, with their children.
"All children are naturally born scientists and [even though] it may be uncomfortable for us, the kids just want to know why the molecules have different shapes," Seth Jarvis, Clark Planetarium director, told the news provider. "I think this is just a matter of how severely do you restrict your children's exposure to the world around them. We're not advocating anything any more than the chemistry sets here are advocating how to make bombs."
Many health officials believe early sex education is important. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of the 19 million new STDs contracted by Americans each year are among young people between the ages of 15 and 24.