As a public service, the Department of Health and Human Services keeps an updated list of "evidence-based" teen pregnancy prevention programs that it endorses. It's a refreshing change of pace from the Bush administration, which relied more on scripture than science for their sex education policies.
Unfortunately, according to the hawk-eyed bloggers over at RH Reality Check, the list received an unexpected addition some time last month. If you scroll down a bit, you'll find a little program called Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education.
So, what is this scientifically proven, fact-based program the Obama administration now endorses?
Heritage Keepers contains little or no information about puberty, anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases, or sexual behavior. Instead, most of its lessons are devoted to promoting the importance of heterosexual marriage and the value of abstinence before marriage. Students are asked to take virginity pledges and class time is devoted to having students envision and plan their wedding days…
[A]t best Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education ignores LGBT youth – and at worst it promotes homophobia. The stigmatization of LGBT youth throughout the program reinforces the cultural invisibility and bias these students already face in many schools and communities.
Oh. That sounds, um, scientific.
It's unclear how President Obama can urge anyone to take a virginity pledge when he's clearly in bed with social conservatives on this one.
In any case, I don't think Heritage Keepers is really as anti-gay as its critics claim. The curriculum includes wedding planning. And who doesn't love envisioning their own wedding day? Newt Gingrich loves it so much, he did it three times!
Tags: Abstinence, Barack Obama, Children, Conservatives, Education, Health, Health Care, Homophobia, Kathleen Sebelius, LGBT, Sex
Everyone who follows the news knows American teens are falling behind. Not only do our adolescents perform poorly on international comparisons in science and math, the CDC reports that we're in danger of losing our global leadership position in teenage baby making. The National Center for Health Statistics recently announced that fewer babies were born to U.S. teenagers in 2010 than in any year since 1946.
While we're still number one in teen pregnancy among members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, our state legislatures are not taking this challenge to our teen pregnancy supremacy lying down. Next week, the Tennessee House is scheduled to take up amendments to the state's sex education curriculum, which have already been approved in the Senate…
The Tennessee Senate voted 28-1 to amend the state's sex ed curriculum by adding warnings against "gateway sexual activity." Senate Bill 3310 does not explicitly define what those activities are, but it comes in response to controversies in Nashville and Knox County schools over instruction given to high school students that mentioned alternatives to sexual intercourse.
"'Abstinence' means from all of these activities, and we want to promote that," said state Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, the bill's sponsor. "What we do want to communicate to the kids is that the best choice is abstinence."
The naysayers will point out that being number one in teen pregnancy is actually a bad thing, and abstinence education has a poor track record in discouraging teen sex. Opponents of the bill have also complained that "gateway sexual activity" is so ill-defined as to include hand holding, playing Barry White records, lighting candles and guitar ownership.
But Tennessee legislators are nothing if not consistent. Whether it's introducing creationism into science classrooms or promoting a retrograde sexual health curriculum, Tennessee politicians have a single policy on rationally thinking through the consequences of their actions: abstinence only.
Tags: Abstinence, Education, Sex, State Legislature, Tennessee
You may remember Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from such controversies as: stripping away public workers' collective-bargaining rights, initiating a series of crippling statewide protests, and possibly getting himself removed from office.
Well, he's back in the headlines. This time, for an ambitious new plan to get Wisconsin residents working again. With abstinence…
Wisconsin is facing a jobs crisis. The state's official unemployment rate, down to 7.1 percent in January, has risen to 7.8 percent since Republican Gov. Scott Walker took office… Walker called a special jobs-focused session of the Legislature… At the top of the jobs agenda? Gutting the state's sex ed standards and replacing them with abstinence-only education.
A bill launched during Walker's jobs session and nearing passage in the Legislature would repeal significant portions of the state law that requires schools to provide comprehensive, scientifically accurate, and age-appropriate sex ed… Republicans hold big majorities on the education committee and the Assembly overall, so the bill is expected to pass easily.
Brilliant! By refusing to teach horny high schoolers the fundamentals of family planning, Walker has given millions of Wisconsin parents a second job as grandparents.
And just think of all the great private-sector jobs this law will create. More doctors and nurses to treat all the new STD outbreaks. More Babies'R'Us cashiers to sell merchandise for all the little accidents conceived in Applebee's parking lots. And more casting agents for all the new episodes of Teen Mom.
Scott Walker has such ingenious ideas. Why isn't he running for president already?
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Abstinence, Education, Republicans, Scott Walker, Sex, Unions, Wisconsin, Work/office
On Wednesday, lawmakers in Wisconsin scrambled to pass a series of bills as part of a special "jobs session" called by Governor Scott Walker. Apparently, legislators were faced with one key jobs-related problem: how to ensure there are enough unplanned pregnancies today to produce the workers who will staff the crappy service jobs of the future?
Schools that teach sexual education would have to promote marriage and tell students abstinence is the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy, under a bill the Senate passed Wednesday.
The Republican-backed measure passed on a party-line 17-15 vote and now goes to the Republican-run Assembly. It would allow schools to teach abstinence-only courses, which has been banned in Wisconsin since last year under a law Democrats passed when they controlled state government.
The measure was adopted in response to the Healthy Youth Act, which mandated "comprehensive sex education" and, Democrats claimed, was responsible for dropping Milwaukee’s teen birthrate drop from 46.73 births per 1,000 teens in 2008 to 35.68 births per 1,000 teens in 2010. Of course, actual abstinence is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs, but abstinence education, according to one peer-reviewed study published in the porno mag known as the Journal of Adolescent Health…
…abstinence-only programs had no signiﬁcant effect in delaying the initiation of sexual activity or in reducing the risk for teen pregnancy and STD…[comprehensive programs] were signiﬁcantly associated with reduced risk of teen pregnancy, whether compared with no sex education or with abstinence-only sex education.
There's one silver/Chlamydia-encrusted lining here. According to another study of "virginity pledges" (I think I took mine by accident when I joined the debate team…), which are often used as part of abstinence-education programs, "pledgers" substitute oral and anal sex for vaginal intercourse. So congratulations to the Wisconsin GOP for creating a generation of wholesome Midwestern youngsters with a penchant for bareback sodomy. I salute you.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Abstinence, Education, Scott Walker, Sex, State Legislature, Wisconsin