Young Son is involved with a sex-ed unit in his science class at school. Our other two children went through the same curriculum, which teaches abstinence-only. Several times throughout the curriculum, we have been required to complete a worksheet or assignment. One evening, we had to write 5 sentences within an essay he was writing about why abstinence was best. After hearing a recent report showing that abstinence-only sex-ed was not any more effective at postponing sexual intercourse than a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum, we had more than 5 sentences to say.
Here is our portion of Young Son’s essay:
The first question we have concerning abstinence in relation to this course is . . . What is the definition of abstinence? [Young Son’s] dad is studying sexuality in his sociology courses in college. The definition of abstinence in one of his textbooks is the voluntary avoidance of intercourse. This does not necessarily include abstaining from other sexual practices, such as hugging, kissing, massage, or masturbation. CDC studies between 1991 and 2001 showed a ten percent decrease in sexual intercourse among high school students. This doesn’t mean that these students abstained from other sexual activities, which could potentially spread STDs if students aren’t taught how to protect themselves.
Definitions aside, abstaining from intercourse allows teenagers to concentrate on other things, such as exploring hobbies and academic interests. Abstinence prevents emotional relationships that teens may not be ready for. Of course, it also prevents pregnancy and the many responsibilities that accompany bring a child into the world. While we value abstinence and understand its importance, we fell that an abstinence-only education is not balanced enough for the realities of sexual activity. Students need to be taught the proper use of contraception, along with the responsibilities of early sexual activity. We concur with musical satirist Roy Zimmerman when he says, “Abstinence-only education is like just hold it potty training.”
When I asked Young Son if the teacher had mentioned contraception, he said, “Contra-what?” When I asked Daughter if the course had covered contraception, she said that she didn’t remember.
I know, I know, people who are anti-teen sex think that if they wave the “abstinence-only” fairy dust over teens, they’ll magically stop having sex, while believing that if we give teens info on contraception, we are giving them license to have sex all they want. The unintended consequence of this abstinence-only curriculum is that it is not giving teens enough information to make informed decisions. The sexual urge is powerful, which is as it should be. Our survival mechanism as a species depends upon our procreation. Now, with serious STDs to contend with, some of which are deadly, our survival depends upon understanding how to protect ourselves during intercourse. I think it’s time we return to a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum.