Kissing Abstinence-Only Goodbye

It looks like Texas schools are growing tired of waiting around for state law-makers to reverse the state’s addiction to failed abstinence-only programs. They are taking matters into their own hands.

Earlier this week San Marcos CISD became the latest in a rapidly expanding list of Texas districts — including schools in the Dallas-area , Austin-area, and San Antonio-area, to name but a few — to adopt a common-sense approach to sex education in their schools. On Monday the San Marcos school board voted to abandon abstinence-only sex education in favor of an abstinence-plus approach (which recommends abstinence first, but also provides basic information about contraception).

On one level this is unsurprising, since a May poll sponsored by TFNEF shows that 80 percent of likely voters in Texas agree that high school classes on sex education should teach “about contraception, such as condoms and other birth control, along with abstinence.” Contrary to conventional wisdom, teaching accurate and comprehensive sex education is NOT controversial in Texas.

But getting nervous school boards to overcome their reluctance and actually take action can be a daunting task. That’s why TFN launched an initiative last fall to support activists in local communities like San Marcos who wish to change their schools’ sex education policy. Almost a year into this program, we are starting to see some real results.

In school districts around the state, a familiar script is playing out again and again:

>>Parents and community members grow alarmed about high teen pregnancy and disease rates and join their local School Health Advisory Council (SHAC).

>>Led by these activists, the SHAC puts forth a recommendation for the district to adopt a new approach to sex education — one that includes information about contraception and birth control, along with a strong message of abstinence.

>>Local scholars and health educators encourage the school board to utilize an evidence-based curriculum that actually works in reducing teen pregnancy and STD rates.

>>Responding to this broad support, the school board steps up and installs real, accurate, honest sex education programs in their schools.

It isn’t always this smooth, of course. In some instances a small group of loud voices object, hoping to intimidate the school board with myths or scare-tactics about contraceptives or by trumpeting the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs. But the evidence just isn’t on their side — and neither are most of their neighbors. Lacking any other defense, some abstinence-only supporters resort to tired and divisive religious arguments against honest sex education. That’s what happened in San Marcos, where one school board member said:

I assume the majority of students at San Marcos High School are Christian. And if that is the case, then this whole thing is anti-Christian.

But policy makers at local schools are beginning to recognize this as a bogus argument. Plenty of Christians and other people of faith support sex education that includes information about contraceptives and birth control — even in a conservative state like Texas. And most people recognize the complimentary roles parents and schools can play in this area: schools are best equipped to cover the biological and scientific aspects of sex education, while moral and ethical guidance comes from parents and religious congregations. The two don’t have to be in conflict.

Texas has the third highest teenage birth rate in the U.S., which means a teenager in Texas gets pregnant every 10 minutes and a Texas teenager gives birth every 10 minutes.

The educators and parents on front lines of this public health crisis are rejecting the status quo and demanding a more responsible approach.

Are state law-makers listening?

12 thoughts on “Kissing Abstinence-Only Goodbye

  1. What good are Family Values without Valued Sex? Young men are rendered insensate by a nod, wink, or slight flirtations smile or pleasing curve of subcutaneous fat. Young women until mid twenties operate from a position of strategic advantage, that of screening out those whose muscle or money is indicative of providing protection and sustainence during the decade or so of child rearing. After that, the roles reverse, with the female becoming more aggressive to induce Harry the Hero to stick around.

    Given the high rate of infant mortality and death in childbirth in past centuries, the need to maintain pregnancy for family survival is no longer necessary. The hardware and software, endowed by our Creator, is however, not switched off. The gene pool (as in Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins) IMHO, senses the drop in infant creation, and to correct the drift, has reacted by ever dropping ages of puberty in girls. The math would suggest that if the age of puberty is dropped, the birth rate will climb towards higher rates, as in the Old Days of six per couple.

    Abstinence in the face of what has been created for our survival is counter-productive. Boys and girls will do what they are created to do: recreate.

    The extended dalliance periord incident to reduced impregnation suggests that quality, not quantity is in order. The default boyish tendency is speed and precision, leaving the girl either in suspended or insufficient animation. The subsequent disconnection in inimical to the sustenance of extended Family Values.

    There is a need for quality and endurance in the primal process.

  2. TFN.

    How could you? Knowest thou not that knowledge and use of contraceptives leadeth to millions more teenagers having sex outside of holy matrimony. In other words, it multiplieth sin and and maketh it overflow with exceeding more abundance than before. Thou gettist more sex when thou worriest not about pregnancy—wherein thou hadest little or none before—neither hadest thou it at all in some cases. Doest thou this? Knowest thou not that thy support of this manifold increase in iniquity drawest the holy hand-grenade nigh unto Texas and risketh wiping her out?

    But seriously, with apologies to Monty Python and King James, this is how I feel about it. As a Christian—and Biblically speaking—this is one of the lamest religious arguments against contraception I have ever seen. “It’s not the pregnancy wee izz wurried about. We izza holdin’ back the dam on seeyun.”

    Recall the words of Jesus. Lusting after the opposite sex out of wedlock in one’s heart is the same as having sex out of wedlock. God checks the heart first—not the current location of the gonads. If any of you recall what it was like to be a teenager with all of those raging hormones, you know that Texas would have been wiped out by a hand-grenade from Heaven long before now by virtue of the rampant lust alone. You know it’s worst of all in Texas too because the gals are so doggone pretty—like that nice Kathy Miller.

    That’s their argument folks—in a nutshell. Pregnancy will go down, but the volume of sexual sin will go up—and the risks associated with the latter are far worse by any measure than being the state with the 3rd largest number of teenage mothers who are chronically poor, unable to take care of themselves, and unable to take care of their children. And what about these poor and sometimes abused children who had no real chance in life from the very beginning? Well, just in case they need it, the Christian fundamentalists in Texas have established “the needle” down in Huntsville to take care of them as part of their pro-life campaign.

    I still remember the words of a real Christian teacher (Doug Frank) out in Oregon. They were published in one of Randall Balmer’s earliest books back in the 1980s. Doug was one of Randy’s teachers. Doug said he hoped that one day conservative Christians (like those all over Texas) would see the error of their ways (to which they are so self-blinded), fall down on their knees, and cry out to Heaven: “Forgive us for we are sorry bastards. Forgive us for we are sorry bastards.”

    They are. They should. Read the red words you idiots.

  3. I think “abstinence-only” sex education is a misnomer. It doesn’t educate. Indeed, in many cases it outright lies.

    I prefer an equally contradictory but more accurate label.

    How about “ignorance-only” sex education.

  4. The physiology of sex is what most consider sex education. It is the psychology of or in a relationship especially courtship that needs coverage and is ignored. Abstinence is a good idea; but we don’t teach our children how to deal with that territory between heavy petting and an organism. And for the evangelicals, we have:
    But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, LET HIM DO WHAT HE WILL, he sinneth not: let them marry.
    There is good advice in them there scriptures!

  5. If God created Man (HomoSaps) in His Image, what does this say about the sancity of sex as central to Family Values? If procreation is, by Nature’s God, is designed to take place at puberty, by what divine authority is the prohibition of sex that is consisstent with Divine Design?

    What kind of Father tests faith by temptation? That sort of parenting is felonious in most states,or at least abusive. Who gains from interfering with God’s Design? Quite simply, power is the prize of those who usurp Divine Authority.

  6. Last month a moderate, sensible republican from Indiana put out a statement saying the GOP needs to put the culture wars aside for a few years and focus on getting country’s fiscal house in order. He was, of course, blasted by the religious right – how DARE he try to take gay bashing, abortion, school vouchers and abstinence-only sex ed off the party platform? Tony Perkins of the FRC, one of the head cockroaches of the religious right, put out a statement that said “fiscal conservatism and religious conservatism are not mutually exclusive.”

    Perkins could not be more wrong. Abstinence-only sex education, as study after study has shown, is a complete failure and a taxpayer nightmare. Every reputable study ever published has shown that abstinence-only education does not lead to lower teen pregnancy rates. It simply doesn’t work. Abstinence-only, in conjunction with all the roadblocks southern states have put up to impede abortions, have lead to an expansion of the welfare class. That’s because the disadvantged have a much higher incidence of teen pregancy and single mother births with no financial support from the father. And since we can’t morally sit by and watch other Americans starve to it increases the tax bill of all Americans. We fiscal conservatives realize that the economically disadvantaged should have free and easy access to comprehensive sex education, birth control and abortion services. Give them a chance to get escape from poverty, achieve financial stability and then think about having children.

    If anyone tells you they’re both for abstinence only, against abortion and a fiscal conservative run way as fast as you can because this is not a person to be trusted.

  7. As for sex education, or education of any kind, one should have some notion of the action oriented performance objectives the student will attain as a result of said education.

    The Armed Services converted from subject oriented training to performanc oriented education shortly after the Vietnam War. The result, at least for those who do the serving at arms, is the best troops in the world by far. True performance objecties are not the ones that are tested by requiring the student to list, describe, recall, discuss, or summarise. True performance objectives are couched in terms of an action, the conditions underwhich the action is performed and the standards to be attained; this is called Action, Condition, Standard.

    The standards recently compiled by the SBOE have to actionable value. In fact, very little of higher or middle education do. Business Administration, and the medical schools do.

    Time we convened another board.

  8. What the hell does “Family Values” mean anyway? Does it mean that if I produce no family I have no value?

  9. The term “Family Values” is a Conservative Code of Conduct stressing idyllic family values. It specifically excludes single femaie parents of the Black persuation which accounts for the concept of having “no family values” despite any actual evidence of strong maternal parenting thereof.

    The term family values as it pertains to the values, beliefs, behaviors, and norms which could be quite different from each other, depending on circumstance and culture. I have been working on a simple system to use in analyzing a culture of interest to such as a tinker, tanker, or tourist. that is based what it takes for a family/tribe/clan to survive.

    Survival consists of maintaining the replacement rate of 2.1 surviving children capable of reproducing. If the customs of a culture do not reach this level, the result is a decline in population. Most advanced industrial cultures today are in decline.

    Before clear water and a modicum of effective medicine, a couple had to have six children in order to maintain the replacement rate.

    The basic nuclear family,therefore, consisting of a mother, father, and one o more children. The primary values, beliefs, behaviors, and norms that go into developing the child to the age of puberty when viewed in the aggregate for a larger group are usually those which are held most strongly.

    Two primary parenting roles include the protection and the nurturing of the family so that the child survives in good shape. Cultures differ widely on how much the Father is Protector and Mother as Nurturer. Celtic women trained the warriors in fighting skills, somthing we don’t expect in our culture. Japanese wives hold the purse strings. So fidning out what is a Mother’s role vis a vis a Father’s role is not a value judgement but a judgement of values that pertain to a particular population.

    Culture will also define the roles the children are expected to attain on puberty. After puberty, the culture of family also allocates role of Mother, Family, Uncles, Aunts, and GrantParents. Older cultures don’t dump the entire load of raising childrnn on young parents whose energy is needed in the fields or at home for the greater good.

    Family values as a way of describing culture is quite foreign to the Righteous, which might account for the weakness of their current family values.