A hallmark of the Left is their inability to comprehend that opposing opinions can and do exist at the same time. They’re the Thought Police, and are routinely convinced that another’s viewpoint must boil down to obsession over said subject matter. This is frequently seen in discussions regarding sex education. Conservatives hold “radical” views about sexual choices (meaning: you’re responsible for your own, regret & rape aren’t the same thing, and babies aren’t to blame for your lack of wisdom). These views greatly concern the Left.
Recently, discussions of abstinence-based education have increased. This was due in large part to a provision passed by Congress, included in other legislation, that increased funding to abstinence-only education. Almost on cue, the Left blew up at the idea of such a backwards, non-progressive, unfair thing and insisted that the youth of America were being led astray in health classes across the nation. Abstinence is a four-letter word, and how dare it even be introduced in our schools. As reported at Reality Check:
Since 1982, more than $1.7 billion in federal money has been spent on programs that are damaging to young people and fail to provide opportunities to learn vital information and skills that they need. In the past, a collective outcry from young people, parents, educators, and medical and public health professionals has been successful in reducing spending on AOUM programs. Now, in 2015, Congress has passed the first-ever increase in the 18-year-old Title V program. We’ve been here before, and we won’t stand for the perpetuation of these damaging programs. Our young people deserve better.
Young people most definitely deserve better, but it won’t be found in shielding them from the idea of abstinence in their sex ed classes. With a 2013 pregnancy rate for 15-19 year olds at 273,015 babies born, I’d say education programs which include abstinence aren’t really the problem. These kind of programs are seen as damaging by the Left, but what’s really the issue? Youth are ill-informed, not uninformed, and are encouraged to do what feels right at the moment more than they’re encouraged to consider consequences of those moments’ actions. That is the problem. There must be a balanced approach to sex education in this country. Such an approach would involve educators listing the truths about sex in a clear, concise manner that presents the facts of making a choice to engage in such activity, the potential outcomes (disease, parenthood), and the responsible alternatives. Contrary to popular belief, abstinence is an alternative. Not a popular one, obviously, but the only fool-proof route that doesn’t end in medication for an STD or buying diapers for your new arrival.
An especially ridiculous article appeared on The Nation blog recently entitled “Tennessee’s Abstinence-Based Sex-Ed Law Is Especially Bad for Black Students”. After reporting that the Memphis area has an especially high rates of chlamydia, the article goes on to say:
According to small focus groups of black teens, parents, and teachers convened by SisterReach…more than 90 percent of the youth interviewed said they weren’t given adequate information to fully understand their bodies or how to make the right decisions about sex.
What was that about youth deserving better? Where have parents and educators been? If they only teach what the youth want to hear in a way that excludes or associates other choices (like abstinence) with the negative, then this is the result. Of course, the ultimate decision is up to the young person, but shouldn’t we give them the full list of options (not including life-ending abortion) and explain the stark realities of each? Yes.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, “Eighteen percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are teenagers; those aged 15–17 obtain 6% of all abortions, 18–19-year-olds obtain 11%, and teens younger than 15 obtain 0.4%”. So, as you see, this issue isn’t just a matter of responsibility. It is also one of life and death. By failing to give the full picture of actions & consequences of sex to teenagers, including the realities of both abstinence and abortion, we are doing them a great disservice. What the Left deems as damaging I find as necessary: sex education which includes abstinence, details the good and bad, and places responsibility in the hands of our youth.