Since 1981, the federal government has poured over a billion dollars into what is known as “abstinence only until marriage” programs, with States receiving funding through such things as the Adolescent Family Life Act and the Welfare Reform Act. In order to receive these funds, the States have to provide education to minors under the following criteria:
“abstinence education” means an educational or motivational program which—
(A) has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity;
(B) teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school age children;
(C) teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems;
(D) teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity;
(E) teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;
(F) teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society;
(G) teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to sexual advances; and
(H) teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.*
I think all of us have seen how well that’s been working, and today, half of the States no longer participate, choosing instead to provide residents with their own versions of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Act. That still leaves the other half of the Country, and, I assure you, some of those remaining States not only adhere to the rules set by the federal government, but seem to want to travel back in time – maybe a few centuries back.
The Governor of Tennessee recently signed a bill into law which would leave most people shaking their heads. Known as the “Gateway Sexual Activity Law”, it is described this way:
“The law is so vague that it could define kissing and holding hands as ‘gateways to sexual activity’ and make it difficult for sex education teachers to address such activity in class. The law also may prevent sex education teachers from discussing contraception.The new law allows teachers who do encourage the use of contraception to promote safe sex to be punished, which could scare teachers from even mentioning contraception at all, meaning sex education courses would consist of just abstinence-only programs, which are proven to not work in preventing teen pregnancy.”**
Maybe it’s just me, but I always believed that the more information we gave our children, the better choices and decisions they would make, not only about sexual activity, but about everything. Give them a well-rounded education and they will probably do what is right and smart – all by themselves. This law sounds more like a skit on Saturday Night Live than an actual and honest attempt at legislation – kissing is like marijuana and sex is like crack. One kiss and you’ll be on the streets in no time, lurking in back alleys, looking for a fix.
The Missouri legislature went a step further in an effort to steer the kids away from evil, and luckily, this little gem hasn’t gotten very far yet. Some representatives in the “Show Me” State considered passage and held debate on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Here’s a little part of it:
HB 2051, “Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school.”
I don’t even know what that means, how you would enforce it and how one would know if they had somehow been in violation of it. I think that it says something about making babies – but you can’t talk about the sex part. That’s not going to be easy. I’m also guessing here, but I think that “sexual orientation” is a secret code for those things you’re not supposed to talk about, or even acknowledge – like I said, this bill is clear as mud.
There are other examples, in other State Houses, but you get the idea. I don’t think that there’s much I need to say about this trend of thought. Most of us remember what we were taught during those sex-ed classes and they were certainly clear. I do know that there are twenty five States that need to look at what they are or aren’t teaching, and realize that the problems and issues of sexuality in 2012 aren’t going to improve by denying that they exist and denying the kids the information they need.
* Social Security Act Sec.510(b)(2)
** reuters.com 5/12/2012