Warning: This article contains objectionable material that is being taught to school children.
A recent government study found that leading “comprehensive” sex education curricula intended to reduce teen sex, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases contain sexually explicit material and factual errors.
The study was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the request of Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania). The request came after the “Waxman Report,” written in 2004 by the staff of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California), claimed abstinence curricula are deficient. That report was criticized for its own inaccuracies, and for failing to evaluate comprehensive sex ed curriculum.
The ACF study addresses four main questions: 1. Does the content of the comprehensive sex education curricula mirror the stated purposes? 2. What is the content of comprehensive sex education curricula? 3. Do comprehensive sex education curricula contain medically inaccurate statements? 4. Do evaluations of these curricula show them to be effective at (a) delaying sexual debut and (b) reducing sex without condoms?
What the study found will shock many parents and legislators. The leading comprehensive sex ed curricula discourage the most effective way to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (delaying sex until, and restricting it to, marriage) by explicitly describing various sexual activities, encouraging role playing of sexual acts in the classroom and field trips to buy condoms, and downplaying the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases with contraceptive use.
The “comprehensive” or “abstinence plus” programs promote increased contraceptive use among teens, emphasizing condom use and how to incorporate it into a sexual encounter. Abstinence is grossly underrepresented. The study reports, “Of the curricula reviewed, the curriculum with the most balanced discussion of abstinence and safer-sex still discussed condoms and contraception nearly seven times more than abstinence. Three of the nine curricula reviewed did not even have a stated purpose of promoting abstinence.”
The content of these “comprehensive” programs may lead you to think you have read eroticized phrases from the latest Cosmopolitan magazine. But these are, in fact, taken straight out of curricula from “comprehensive” sex education programs being taught to children as young as 10 years old.
One curriculum directs the teacher to say:
“Think up a sexual fantasy using condoms” and “use condoms as a method of foreplay….act sexy/sensual when putting condoms on, hide them on your body and ask your partner to find it…tease each other manually while putting the condom on.”
“Don’t worry if you are in a fix and need lubricant for a condom immediately, just use ‘grocery store lubricants…grape jelly, maple syrup, and honey’ instead.”
In addition to learning how to make “safe sex” interesting, students are also instructed on ways to “be close to a person without having sexual intercourse…The list may include body massage, bathing together…reading erotic books and magazines…”
(More explicit passages are not decent for CWA to reproduce.)
The ACF study also found medical and factual errors in the curriculum. Some curricula inadequately addressed the failure rates of condoms. The erroneous information relays to students a false sense of security in the protective power of condoms against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy. These “comprehensive” programs severely weaken what little abstinence message may be given by giving incorrect information, by approaching sexuality outside of a value system and by assuming that youth will engage in sexual behavior despite the risks.
Ironically, although abstinence-only programs have seen significant success and give more accurate information on condom use and the emotional effects of early sexual activity, the government spends only $1 on abstinence programs for every $12 spent on comprehensive sex ed and contraceptives. This despite the fact that surveys show that 78 percent of parents want their children taught abstinence.
The small amount of federal funding currently set aside for abstinence-only programs may be eliminated. One particular channel of funding for abstinence programs, included in Title V, is set to expire on June 30, 2007 if it is not re-authorized by Representative John Dingell (D-Michigan), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Dingell plans on simply allowing the bill to expire or making amendments that gut funding for abstinence education. The money would most likely be re-directed to comprehensive sex ed programs.
Take Action: Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) members should contact Rep. Dingell at 202-225-4071 to encourage him to reauthorize Title V before the June 30th deadline.
The Administration for Children and Families: Department of Health and Human Services. “Review of Comprehensive Sex Education Curricula.” May 2007.
Rector, Robert E., Melissa Pardue and Shannan Martin. "Backgrounder." Heritage Foundation. 14 Jan. 2004. The Heritage Foundation. 18 June 2007 http://www.heritage.org.
Roeten, Kevin. "The Fear of Abstinence." Zogby International. 18 June 2007. American Daily. 19 June 2007 http://www.zogby.com.