Thursday, December 02, 2004

Abstinence-only sex education

I'm feeling spunkier today so I thought I'd start in on this topic. The Bush Administration has allocated nearly $170 million to promote abstinence-only sex education. This is more than the NEA gets ($120 million). Here's a good summary of the pertinent issues in the Bush Administration's policy. The thing is I'm not opposed to teaching abstinence per se, but only abstinence is just silly. Yes, it's true that abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, and it is 100% effective. And yes, I would prefer for my children to wait until they're in a committed relationship before they have sex (note I did not say marriage). However, we have to be realistic here. Hormonal surges in teenagers do not usually lead to rational thinking nor are they necessarily conducive to saying no easily. I would much rather my children know about condoms and birth control if they end up having sex before they should. I do plan to discuss these things with them, but it will be helpful to have the school backing me up.

The other subtext to this whole argument is that sex is somehow something special that should be saved for someone special. I just don't buy that. Sex is sex. It can be special, but it's an animal instinct primarily. The people who promote these programs are often (but not always) the same people who want to promote teaching creationism or intelligent design (more on that another time). If you make sex into this "special" event that can only be shared with a "special" person then what happens when your first time sucks (as it often does). Do you feel like you've ruined something?

The Washington Post has an article on it today. One of my favorite facts--61% of all graduating high school seniors have had sex.