Sex ed that we can believe (in)

by on July 28, 2008  •  In Health

Despite study after study finding that abstinence "education" does not work, except possibly to create funding streams for religious organizations and right-wingers, Congress keeps throwing money at them.

Meanwhile, Australian educators have had a eureka moment – why not develop programs that teenagers might actually take seriously, because they provide genuinely helpful information and counsel? What a concept.

  Save our kids from the evils of sex ed, once and for all

Violet Blue, special to SF Gate

…[R]ecently in Australian schools, researchers put together a groundbreaking sexual health program for 16-25 year olds. Associate Professor Moira Carmody from the University of Western Sydney’s Social Justice and Social Change Research Centre did something totally shocking: She asked teens what they needed from their sex ed programs. Carmody interviewed young people about their sexual activity, experiences and concerns. Instead of telling them that sex is bad or sinful or that you can catch AIDS from a public library computer someone once used to look at porn, she used the kids’ feedback to create a six-week program, subsequently run in six communities in Sydney and regional New South Wales….

Here, no one asks kids what they’re experiencing and what information they could use to help navigate decision-making in sexual situations. What’s worse, according to the curriculum content guidelines for funding recipients, the required federal sex ed states that: …

    "The curriculum must have a clear message regarding the importance of student abstinence from sexual activity until marriage and must emphasize that the best life outcomes are more likely obtained if an individual abstains until marriage. Throughout the entire curriculum, the term ‘marriage’ must be defined as ‘only a legal union between one man and one woman as a husband and wife, and the word "spouse" refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.’ (Consistent with federal law.) The curriculum must teach the psychological and physical benefits of sexual abstinence-until-marriage for youth. Information on contraceptives, if included, must be age-appropriate and presented only as it supports the abstinence message being presented. Curriculum must not promote or endorse, distribute or demonstrate the use of contraception or instruct students in contraceptive usage." …

The American Civil Liberties Union, tired of the Department of Health and Human Services ignoring repeated warnings about incorrect data, sent the department a letter threatening legal action. The ACLU is currently trying to get the DHHS to stop disseminating incorrect information — because doing so violates federal law….


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