Sex Ed Wars
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"Abstinence Based" vs "Comprehensive" Sexuality Education: the Sex Ed Wars
1. The recent article on Abstinence Only Education in the Journal of Adolescent Health released simultaneously with Society for Adolescent Medicine position paper on Abstinence Based Curriculum reveals an unabashed advocacy for unfettered adolescent sexual activity, invoking human rights treaties and other political documents to promulgate "comprehensive sexual education".
One AAPLOG member commented:
"Dr. Santelli has authored multiple position papers decrying the AOUM -Abstinence Only until Marriage – requirement of HHS Title V grants for SRA – sexual risk avoidance vs. risk reduction teen sexuality education. The latest in the September 2017 Journal of Adolescent Health and Medicine is replete with references which support his position that teaching only abstinence and negative and/or incorrect information about teen pregnancy and contraception is unethical and coercive in view of the biological need for sexual expression which begins in adolescence. While he does not oppose the choice to refrain from sexual expression he advocates (value neutral) medically correct sexual health information, without adverting to the studies which have shown that programs which restrict their information to only the biological have been far from effective and most probably have contributed to the rise in teen sexual activity and abortion which followed legalization of abortion."
At issue is the question of whether or not sexual activity outside of the bounds of a mutually monogamous lifetime sexual relationship is the goal of human sexual behavior. Scientifically, there is no question that a mutually monogamous lifetime sexual relationship provides minimal risk of sexually transmitted diseases, lowers abortion rates, provides greater economic flourishing, provides a superior environment for the education and care of children, decreases poverty rates and provides more frequent and satisfying sexual activity for those couples in a mutually monogamous relationship.
The benefits of a mutually monogamous lifetime sexual relationship as the goal of human sexual activity are reflected in US Policy guidelines. Unlike the distorted description of abstinence education in the Journal of Adolescent Health, and the Soc Adol Med Policy Guidelines, the actual definition of Abstinence Education is codified in the Federal policy guidelines quoted here :
Under Title V, Section 510 of the 1996 Social Security Act, P.L. 104–193, the term “abstinence education” is defined as an educational or motivational program which 
has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity
teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school-aged children
teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems
teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity
teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects
teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child's parents, and society
teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to sexual advances
teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity
Most parents wholeheartedly support these statements.
It is also clear from pediatric neurobehavioral research that children and adolescents have difficulty in evaluating the long term aspects of behaviors and decisions. It is an ideological, not a scientific statement that "… adolescents should decide for themselves when they are ready to initiate sex." [Soc for Adoles. Med Position Statement at 2] The term "should" implies a moral imperative that is not derived from science, but rather from ideology. The initiation of sexual activity has lifetime repercussions that children and many adolescents are not able to comprehend.
The schizophrenic position statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics acknowleges:
"Sexuality education is more than the instruction of children and adolescents on anatomy and the physiology of biological sex and reproduction. It covers healthy sexual development, gender identity, interpersonal relationships, affection, sexual development, intimacy, and body image for all adolescents, including adolescents with disabilities, chronic health conditions, and other special needs. Developing a healthy sexuality is a key developmental milestone for all children and adolescents that depends on acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values about consent, sexual orientation, gender identity, relationships, and intimacy.
Healthy sexuality is influenced by ethnic, racial, cultural, personal, religious, and moral concerns. [bold emphasis mine] Healthy sexuality includes the capacity to promote and preserve significant interpersonal relationships; value one’s body and personal health; interact with both sexes in respectful and appropriate ways; and express affection, love, and intimacy in ways consistent with one’s own values, sexual preferences, and abilities. The various dimensions of healthy sexuality comprise the anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry of the sexual response system; identity, orientation, roles, and personality; and thoughts, feelings, and relationships.
Ideally, children and adolescents receive accurate information on sexual health from multiple professional resources. [cites to SIECUS]"
SIECUS is no authority on "ethnic, racial, cultural, personal, religious and moral concerns." SIECUS is a radical left organization seeking to promote sexual initiationthe earliest ages, as evidenced by their "comprehensive sexuality curriculum".
Despite posturing to the contrary, professional consensus on "healthy sexuality" does not exist in the medical profession. At war are two different views of what "healthy sexuality" means, as the definition is intrinsically a moral determination. For the SEICUS, Planned Parenthood, Guttmacher view, "healthy sexuality" is freedom from all social and moral constraints, so that anything that allows a person to do what they want at the moment to do is "healthy sexuality", regardless of long term consequences. And unfortunately, it is Planned Parenthood who acts in many states to "certify" sex ed teachers for public schools.
Most physicians and parents, on the other hand, view "healthy sexuality" as those behaviors that lead to human flourishing- behaviors that involve self control of sexual expression until the best context of a mutually monogamous relationship can be established.
The recent publications cited above by Santelli, the Society for Adolescent Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatricians are political, not scientific works, published to put political pressure on the current administration to increase funding for sex education designed to promote an unconstrained sexual expression among teens. However, it is exquisitely clear from methodologically sound published literature that for physical, psychological, economic and educational flourishing, a two parent mutually monogamous family is vastly superior to serial intimate relationships. As health care professionals, we need to become aware of who is teaching in our public schools and exactly what is being taught. And we need to support rational abstinence based curricula according to the current federal guidelines.
The content of sex educational programs which teach about the role of sexual expression in our lives is intrinsically a pro-life activity. Abortion happens in a context of disordered sexual expression which exposes women to situations in which they are coerced into ending the lives of their children. Solving the abortion problem in our society necessarily involves education about what is healthy sexual expression for all the people involved, the father, the mother and her unborn child.
Thanks for standing with us,
Donna J. Harrison M.D. Executive Director
American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists
OFFICE: 202.230.0997, ADDRESS: PO Box 395 Eau Claire, MI 49111-0395