Sunday, April 09, 2006

Abstinence-Only Sex Ed

The board of education in my current home state is going to start debating whether or not to impliment a state-wide policy of abstinence-only sexual education. If this passed, any public school that did not teach abstinence-only sex ed would risk losing accreditation. This great idea is brought to you by the same board of education that debated whether or not intelligent design should be taught in biology classes side by side with evolution last year.

Sir has slightly differing views on this topic than I do, as he went to a high school where the very poor teaching staff tried to educate them about contraception because they did not feel that ANYONE in the class would wait to have sex. Their teachings did not stick with all the young men and women in the class because many produced children long before graduation. It is understandable coming from his background that he would want sex ed that focused on the possibilities and benefits of abstinence until marriage, or at least until after high school graduation. I completely agree that schools should focus on all the benefits of postponing sex.

But I also do not think that abstinence, ok, let me re-phrase, complete celibacy, is an option for most people. As much as it might be a necessary choice for monastics, is it not the normal or natural way for people to live for their entire lives. Sooner or later, most people will have some sort of sex with another person. In this day and age, sexual contact can result in pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases. Even if you are involved in a monogamous relationship, there is no guarantee that your partner is. Also, even if you postpone sex until marriage, as long as that sex is with a member of the opposite sex, there is a risk of pregnancy, which you might not want right at the beginning of your marriage. So, there should be some sort of sexual education that teaches people how to postpone childbearing and how to protect themselves against diseases. I would love to think that all parents can and will give their children accurate information on their health and their bodies, but even if most parents wanted to educate their children on these topics, they might not be able to find the most accurate information or understand it and relay this to their children. So, shouldn't schools be pushed to provide the most accurate information on all aspects of health in the appropriate health classes?

I also wonder what the politicians who are pushing this policy think the result will be of only telling children to abstain from sex and giving them scary information about all the diseases they could get without telling them that those diseases can be avoided. One recent trend is the increase in oral AND ANAL sex among teenagers who still consider themselves virgins. Many of these teenagers have taken virginity pledges and believe that they are abiding by them by ABSTAINING from vaginal intercourse. But these teenagers are in no way celibate in the way that the adult sponsors of the virginity pledges imagine they will be after taking the pledge. While you might be able to blame the "oral sex isn't really sex" idea on Bill Clinton, you can't do the same thing for anal sex. This kind of abstaining actually puts teenagers at an increased risk of transmitting STDs, especially if they don't use condoms during anal sex.

Also, these same politicians who are pushing abstinence-only sex ed are some of the same politicians who are making it harder for women to get contraception and abortions, making it especially hard for non-rich women. Wouldn't this result in more poor women raising more children and relying on the government for support? Isn't another goal of these politicians to get women off welfare so that the government is smaller? Is it just me or do these things not go together?

I think my head is going to explode.

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