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The Crossroads of American Sexuality and Stupidity

May 30, 2012

Today’s “Modern” Sex Ed

There is such a thing as trying to turn the tide on a trend you don’t like, and then there’s willful ignorance of real life. The Religious Right in this country doesn’t like what it sees as the loosening of sexual mores. And, like many people in many situations, they seem to believe that if we just don’t talk about it, it will go away. Or something… Actually, I guess what they really believe is that by screaming loud enough and long enough they can actually get the horse back in the barn. Witness: abstinence-only sex education.

To call such a thing “sex education” is frankly a lie. Really, we’re talking about teaching sexual morality — but only the version approved by the Religious Right. Abstinence-only programs continue to gain ground across the country, even through current admin policies, despite the fact that they don’t work. Two recent news stories help illustrate this.

Erin Bouquin, New Mexico’s chief medical officer, said she was asked to resign after she promoted condom use in a TV interview as a way to slow the growth of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers…..

New Mexico has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, according to the Guttmacher Institute. (Think Progress – emphasis mine)

The highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation and the chief medical officer in the state is forced to resign after suggesting condoms. Why? New Mexico’s Republican Governor Susana Martinez favors abstinence-only education.

Under a new law in Mississippi, school districts must decide by the end of June whether they’ll teach an abstinence-only version of sex ed or whether they’ll teach abstinence-plus, which includes information about contraception. Several schools around Jackson have chosen abstinence-only, to the dismay of one Democratic state lawmaker who hoped schools would start talking about the facts of life as it’s actually lived. The state says 61 percent of its adolescents are sexually active, 15 points higher than the national average. (The Maddow Blog – emphasis mine)

61% of adolescents are sexually active and policy-makers in the state actually believe abstinence-only education will help? Sorry, but that horse is out of the barn. This is simply stupid policy. No amount of abstinence education is going to stop young people from having sex — like it or not.

What abstinence education does achieve, however, is a stigmatizing effect, making young people less likely to seek good information and contraception. So if the goal of the program is more teenage mothers, we’ve got a winner.

Oddly (or perhaps sinisterly on purpose?), this effort is using our educational system to create a problem that can only come back and damage our educational system. Children who have children have a very low probability of escaping poverty. Poverty, in turn, helps to create more teenage mothers, which keeps the cycle going. And poverty, not teachers, or tests, or anything else education “reformers” want to point to, is the biggest obstacle to educational achievement.

For all the frantic talk about what’s best for the children, the Religious Right is sure doing its best to condemn an awful lot of them to lives of poverty and struggle.  No matter what your religious inclinations, is a little premarital sex really so bad that they deserve that?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2012 8:06 am

    You are mind-numbingly stunningly brilliant.

    New Mexico is #1 eh? I was curious. Where would Arizona, land of the Next Gen Birthers, fall on that same ranking? I predicted they would be #2.

    I checked the PDF you included. Thanks for the linkage. It turns out I was wrong.

    #1 – New Mexico
    #2 – Nevada
    #3 – Arizona

    Wow. I was way off. 🙂 Now, for the bonus round, what else do those states have in common?

    I have no problem with the teaching of abstinence. There are many valid truths on the subject that can be shared. For example, it’s a great way to avoid STDs and has a higher success rate at preventing pregnancy than even condoms or the pill. That’s good information to help intelligent people make intelligent choices.

    But studies have shown, time and time again, that if it is the only thing you teach then bad things will happen. It’s the law of unintended consequences. And that’s the part that really gets me going, is how that fact can be so vehemently ignored by some folks.

    It makes no sense to embrace a philosophy even when it produces the exact opposite of what you want.

    I am so loving the podcast with you and Rutherford. I now have two podcasts that I never miss. You guys and Le Show with Harry Shearer. Good stuff!

    • June 1, 2012 8:34 am

      Us and Harry Shearer? That’s pretty good company. I’m flattered!

      Actually, it depends on what study you read – elsewhere , you’ll find Mississippi listed as #1 in teen mothers. At any rate, no matter who’s #1, the push for abstinence as a solution is ridiculous, no?

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