The Crossroads of American Sexuality and Stupidity
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…..
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?