A big study was just released on the efficacy of abstinence-only sex education. In preparation for all of the ensuing discussion about sex education (which will include a post here tomorrow), I want to be sure everyone really understands what “abstinence only sex education” means. The US government is putting huge amounts of money into this (current funding levels are approximately 137.5 billion dollars every year), and many states, including Texas, require that this be the only form of sex education used in the public schools. So here it is, the federal government’s definition of what a program needs to do in order to qualify as an abstinence only sex education program:
- Have as its exclusive purpose teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity.
- Teach abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children.
- Teach that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems.
- Teach that a mutually faithful, monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of sexual activity.
- Teach that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.
- Teach that bearing children out of wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society.
- Teach young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to sexual advances.
- Teach the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.
I can, and probably will, post my thoughts on this curricular definition, but I’d like to hear from other people first. I know that there are lots of you reading this blog, but not too many posting yet. This is your chance! Please speak up and let us hear what you think!