The Fight for Comprehensive Education - Page 2
But opponents of the measure saw it as affront to family values, the primacy of morals over science, and a host of other ill-conceived notions about how the world works. This was, in their minds, essentially Kamasutra, sexual education that would corrupt our youth and lead to an explosion of sexual activity among teens. They failed to see how accurate information and proper education would empower teens to make good decisions about their sexual health. The fundamental disconnect centered on the idea that somehow teaching abstinence only would stop people from having sex. It was an argument that lacked depth and blatantly disregarded reality. In the end the bill passed, over the objections of people like my illustrious senator.
One step forward, two steps back.
Now as conservative majorities in state houses across the country implement their agendas, the principles of the healthy youth act are under attack. In Wisconsin the legislature recently moved to repeal that state's healthy youth act, a law very similar to our own. On another front, Virginia is proposing to strip state funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs. The ideology fueling this regression is based on the misguided notion that no sex (until marriage of course) is better than safe sex. More precisely that espousing abstinence only is a legitimate substitute for comprehensive education.
Not only does this backward viewpoint threaten the health of our nation's youth, it has unintended consequences that could end up costing our healthcare system billions of dollars. Teen pregnancy and STD transmission rates are influenced by several things including peer pressure, access to accurate information, and socioeconomic factors. Well informed and well supported teens are at less risk of STD infection and unintended pregnancy.
Continued on the next page
Misinformation about the proper use and effectiveness of contraception is a leading cause in putting youth at risk. Not only does the lack of comprehensive sex education fail to reduce sexual activity in teens, it diminishes the use of condoms and birth control, thus leading to increases in disease transmission and unwanted pregnancies. It also contributes to a skewed perception of risk where teens are not informed enough about the risks of unprotected sex and therefore are more likely to engage in risky behavior. Connect the dots and we start to see with clarity how abstinence only education is a threat to public health.