Sex-ed hypocrisy in America
Even with a year still in office, the great chipping-away of the Bush Administration’s failed policies is already under way. The latest example comes from the 14 states ” including Colorado ” rejecting federal funds for sexual education when they come tied to mandatory abstinence-only programs.
It’s interesting to note up front that the reasoning behind the abstinence-only programs is rooted in the Christian right side of the Republican party that held total control in Washington up until 2006. Remember, too, that this is the very same party that loves to vilify government that pokes its noses into our lives in any way, yet manages to seriously advocate invasive government when it’s believed there’s some kind of moral or religious argument to do so.
You’d be hard pressed to find a parent who doesn’t want his or her sons and daughters to remain celibate until the day they marry their (hopefully) life partner. But while that does happen for some, it’s far from the norm, and tying federal dollars to the Title V programs promoting such utopian unions is not only a waste ” but a great example of nanny-state government conservatives usually despise.
Compared to a country like France, where morning-after pills are available to girls at the school nurse’s office, the U.S. is terribly prudish when it comes to facing sexual reality. Sure, we’ll trot young women out in their underwear on TV, show couples doing it every which way on shows like “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy” and rack up stunning sales figures for porn in every state of the union. But when it comes to looking reality in the eye and arriving at a real solution for something like teen pregnancy, we whip out the moral calculator and get plain silly.
In the past six years, the U.S. has spent more than a billion dollars on abstinence-only sex-ed, and what do we have to show for that? Teen pregnancy rates rose in 2005-2006 for the first time in 15 years, yet Congress is looking to increase the celibacy-ed programs by $28 million next year. At the same time, there are no federal funds available for comprehensive sex-ed programs that might talk about things people in the real world need and use: condoms and other forms of birth control; no-nonsense information for maturing teens; and a modicum of respect for our kids and young adults who don’t need to be pandered to by zealots. They need not to get pregnant or infected.
It’s always seemed very odd to me that some of the same folks who get so exercised about abortion don’t lead the charge for comprehensive sex-ed. In Colorado, for example, 55 percent of abortions are performed on women aged 20-29. If you want to reduce that figure, help these young women not get pregnant by educating them and providing them with family-planning services and contraception. Who cares what the Pope says? Christian women all over the place use contraception and still consider themselves true to their faith. Promoting birth control isn’t the same as promoting sex. It’s saying “No!” to expensive, dumb-ass big-government programs that don’t work in favor of something that does.
Back in the real world, of course, parents ” not schools or government ” are the ones who need to work with their children to make sure they’re educated about this very important aspect of human existence. It’s not easy, makes for some awkward conversations and heavy eye-rolling, but it has to be done. At the end of the day, this parent would prefer a teenager on the pill to one who gives me my first grandchild while she’s still a sophomore in high school.
Alex Miller is responsible for the editorial oversight of the Vail Daily, Eagle Valley Enterpirse and Vail Trail. He can be reached at 748-2920, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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