Senator Mary Lazich (Wisconsin's 28th) is circulating bill LRB-2088 "Restoring local control to instruction in human growth and development."
In her co-sponsorship memorandum it states, ". . . the bill gives each community options, rather than mandates. This provides local school districts the power to choose a curriculum that is reflective of the surrounding community's values."
Sounds good to me, except that what the bill actually does is mandate the teaching of abstinence-only sexual education. It also foregoes the requirement to teach puberty, pregnancy, parenting, body image, and gender stereotypes, the health benefits, side effects, and propper use of contraceptives and barrier methods approved by the FDA.
Lazich's bill mandates that "abstinence is the only relaible way to prevent pregnancy and avoid sexually transmitted infections and permits the school board to provide the instructional program to pupils while the pupils are separated from members of the opposite sex."
Now, as a parent and an educated person I will agree that abstinence FIRST is an excellent idea, but abstinence-only does not reflect the unfortunate reality of today's world. In fact, abstinence-only sex ed has been tried before, and it failed . . . a recent study by Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed some of the most troubling data of all - researchers compared teens who had taken the virginity pledge and been exposed to abstinence-only training to those who had not taken a pledge.
First, the rate of the teens taking part in sex was the same. Those taking the virginity pledge were just as likely to have intercourse. The only positive, statistically small, was that those taking the pledge had 0.1 fewer sex partners over the five year study than did those who did not take such a pledge.
However, two other findings were most damning. First, those taking the virginity pledge were less likely to protect themselves. Pledge takers were found to be less frequent users of condoms and other forms of birth control. Therefore, those youngsters who took the virginity pledge were not only just as likely to have intercourse, they ultimately were more likely to take part in sex in an unsafe manner. This has led experts to conclude that the lessons students take from their abstinence-only education programs is a negative and/or faulty view of contraception.
Okay, what about Wisconsin? A 2008 report released by the Wisconsin Division of Public Health found that 45 percent of high school students self-reported they were sexually active. Of those teens who reported having sex, only 61 percent used a condom during their last sexual encounter.
We tried this "abstinence-only" approach with alcohol early in the 20th century under the name of "temperance". How did that work out for us?
I do not drink alcohol. In fact, I have never been intoxicated in all of my life, but I accept the fact that the vast majority of my fellow citizens enjoy a drink here and there, so what do we do - we teach people how to drink responsibly and we should take the same approach with sex ed.
As a parent, I would rather have a real, frank discussion about sex, drugs and alcohol with my kids and let them know that yes, first and foremost, "DO NOT HAVE SEX, DRINK ALCOHOL OR DO DRUGS because you will disappoint me and your mother, and I will kick your butt, but if you ever find yourself in a predicament, please know that there are options and that you can come to us for help."
Just ask yourself as a parent, do you want the kind of honest relationship with your child that will allow them to come to you for help when they have made the wrong choice, or the kind that will force them to conceal their poor choice and either accept a drive home from an intoxicated friend or conceal the fact that they are sexually active?
And the final nail(s) in the coffin on abstinence-only education:
The Claim: Parents want abstinence-only education to be taught in schools.
The Facts: Most Americans want far more than abstinence-only in schools. Only fifteen percent of American adults believe that schools should teach abstinence from sexual intercourse and should not provide information on how to obtain and use condoms and other contraception.
Most Americans want a broad sex education curriculum that teaches the basics—from how babies are made to how to put on a condom and how to get tested for STIs.
- 99 percent want youth to get information on other STIs in addition to HIV.
- 98 percent want youth to be taught about HIV/AIDS.
- 96 percent want youth to learn the “basics of how babies are made.”
- 94 percent want youth to learn how to get tested for HIV and other STIs.
- 93 percent want youth to be taught about “waiting to have sexual intercourse until married.”
- 83 percent want youth to know how to put on a condom.
71 percent believe that teens need to know that they can “obtain birth control pills from family planning clinics without permission from a parent.” www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/409
p.s. Senator Lazich, you simply cannot legislate hormones.