Smears, Lies and Sex

Yesterday John McCain’s presidential campaign released a new ad attacking opponent Barack Obama for supposedly wanting to teach kindergarteners about sex. The ad focuses on state legislation proposed when Obama was a member of the Illinois Senate. But as the Associated Press explains:

[T]he legislation was not Obama’s, it never became law and it would have required age-appropriate information in schools. Obama has said that means warning young children about sexual predators and explaining concepts like “good touch and bad touch.”

Texas voters should be familiar with far-right attempts to smear candidates who support responsible, age-appropriate sex education. The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund has released two reports (here and here) that explain how the religious right has taken control of the Texas State Board of Education in part by using lurid but distorted attacks on candidates who support instruction on responsible pregnancy and disease prevention in public schools.

The consequences of such reckless attacks are easy to see. In 2004 the State Board of Education adopted new high school health textbooks that don’t include a shred of information about contraception and other methods of preventing sexually transmitted diseases except through abstinence-only-until-marriage. The very same year Texas became the state with the nation’s highest teen birth rate.