Posts Tagged “abstinence-only”

Letter to Juneau county (WI) school districts, from D.A. Scott Harold SouthworthThis story is simultaneously shocking — in its scariness — and unsurprising, given how things are in this country. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on this (WebCite cached article):

A district attorney is telling Juneau County schools to abandon their sex education courses, saying a new curriculum law could lead to criminal charges against teachers for contributing to the delinquency of minors.

Starting in the fall, the new law requires schools that have sex education programs to tell students how to use condoms and other contraceptives. Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth said such education encourages sex among children, which is illegal, and could lead to charges against teachers.

The new law “promotes the sexualization – and sexual assault – of our children,” Southworth wrote in a March 24 letter to officials in five school districts. He urged the districts to suspend their sex education programs and transfer their curriculum on anatomy to a science course.

It’s not clear to me how following an explicit state statute can also be a crime that Southworth could prosecute, but I’m not sure that little things like that really matter to him. He’s been brainwashed by the usual Religious Right spew on the matter:

“Forcing our schools to instruct children on how to utilize contraceptives encourages our children to engage in sexual behavior, whether as a victim or an offender,” he wrote. “It is akin to teaching children about alcohol use, then instructing them on how to make mixed alcoholic drinks.”

Southworth claims, rather incredibly, that he’s not motivated by religion:

“If I’d wanted to be ideological, I would have said in the letter you shouldn’t have sex before marriage because that’s the Christian perspective. I’m an evangelical,” Southworth said.

Sorry but this isn’t going to fly. Not with me anyway. When you do something that just happens to coincide with your own religious dogma, you can’t argue you weren’t motivated by that dogma, merely because you didn’t throw in something additional which is also derived from your dogma.

If you want to read his ridiculous letter, I’ve got a copy of it for you to read … in all its sanctimonious, hyperreligious baselessness.

OK, residents of Juneau county who elected this guy your district attorney … what have you got to say for yourselves? And when do you plan to start the process of removing him from office? Or are you going to approve of what Southworth has done, by choosing to do nothing about him?

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

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The “abstinence-only” sex-educational philosophy of the George W. Bush administration, founded in unflinching Christian thinking, has turned out not to be as effective as its proponents had believed. The (UK) Guardian describes a report just issued by the US CDC on the matter:

Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among a generation of American school girls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush’s evangelically-driven education policy, according to a new report by the US’s major public health body.

In a report that will surprise few of Bush’s critics on the issue, the Centres for Disease Control says years of falling rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease infections under previous administrations were reversed or stalled in the Bush years. According to the CDC, birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991 but are up sharply in more than half of American states since 2005. The study also revealed that the number of teenage females with syphilis has risen by nearly half after a significant decrease while a two-decade fall in the gonorrhea infection rate is being reversed. The number of Aids cases in adolescent boys has nearly doubled.

This is not news, though … earlier reports have reached similar conclusions. This is just one more to throw on the pile of studies that shows abstinence-only doesn’t work.

Just in case any of the Bible-thumpers claim that these increases are due to the prevalence of “secular progressives” who’ve somehow thwarted those godly abstinence-only programs, it turns out the increase was in those regions most loyal to the abstinence-only philosophy:

The CDC says that southern states, where there is often the greatest emphasis on abstinence and religion, tend to have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs.

Curiously, proponents of abstinence-only refuse to see this as a massive “fail.” Rather, they claim it’s because abstinence-only hasn’t saturated society profoundly enough:

Kristi Hamrick, a spokeswoman for American Values, which describes itself as a supporter of traditional marriage and “against liberal education and cultural forces”, said the abstinence message is overwhelmed by a culture obsessed with sex.

Just another example of how religionazis always ignore or de-emphasize any facts that contradict their metaphysical beliefs.

The next that will happen, I suppose, is that Fox News will attempt to spin this news to appear to mean the opposite of what it actually does. Sound paranoid? No way … they’ve done it before!

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If you think Fox News really is “fair and balanced,” guess again. They’ve been the mouthpieces for the Religious Right ever since the channel began in the mid 90s, and they remain so. The lengths to which Fox News will go, in order to make the Religious Right look good even in the face of obvious facts to the contrary, are ludicrous.

Here is one example which I just came across recently.

On the heels of a metastudy — which I blogged about a little over a week ago — showing that “abstinence-only” sex education is a dismal failure and actually results in more teen pregnancies than other types — Fox News released this story a couple of days later in an attempt to show the opposite:

Study: Religious Teens More Likely to Abstain from Sex

Religious teens lose their virginity later than those who are not religious — waiting on average three years longer than their peers, a recent study reported.

Janet Rosenbaum, a post doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote in this month’s issue of “Pediatrics” that those with strong religious backgrounds became sexually active at about 21 on average — regardless if they took a pledge to remain a virgin until marriage. …

Rosenbaum told she compared apples to apples. “The behavior of teenagers who have never been to church before is pretty irrelevant when understanding the behavior virginity pledgers,” she said.

Overall, religious students, regardless of whether they take virginity pledges, are more conservative than their non-religious peers. When compared against national averages, “they are having sex an average of about three years later than the average American,” Rosenbaum said.

Note that in this story, Fox News does not dispute that the taking of virginity pledges does not affect whether or not kids have sex. What they are doing is emphasizing — instead — that religious kids are less likely to have sex. Moreover, they are actually dismissing the behavior of non-church-going kids as “irrelevant” to the study.

This is an insane use of the figures in this study. The study ostensibly is examining whether “abstinence-only” sex education coupled with virginity pledges, actually works. Clearly it does not do so. What Fox is doing, here, is plucking out of these results, those kids who are not church-going. But they cannot really do that … since quite obviously these “abstinence-only” sex education programs include both church-going and non-church-going kids! You cannot measure their effectiveness by culling out a big chunk of that group!

What Fox has done, therefore, is to put a happier face on what is truly bad news for the Religious Right, by shining a light only on a tiny part of it and de-emphasizing the rest.

“Fair and balanced”? I think I’ll let “you decide.”

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One of the pitfalls inherent in setting public policy according to metaphysical beliefs, is that not only can you screw things up unintentionally, you can thereafter be unable to correct that screw-up, because doing so would run afoul of the metaphysics itself. A great example of this that was recently exposed, was reported recently by CNN:

s many as one in eight teens in the United States may take a virginity pledge at some point, vowing to wait until they’re married before having sex. But do such pledges work? Are pledge takers more likely than other teens to delay sexual activity?

According to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, pledge takers are as likely to have sex before marriage as other teens who are also religious, but don’t take the pledge. However, pledge takers are less likely than other religious or conservative teens to use condoms or birth control when they do start having sex.

While it’s great to teach that abstinence is the best way to avoid pregnancy — because, in fact, it is! — robbing kids of any knowledge of contraception hamstrings them in the event they choose to violate that principle … and that appears to be as likely among pledge-takers as among others. You end up, ironically, with more unintended pregnancies than you would have otherwise!

The problem is that the hyperreligious fundamentalist Christian beliefs that are the foundation of “abstinence-only” sex education, prevents this failing from being corrected. It is taken as axiomatic that teaching contraception is never acceptable … and this remains the case even if not teaching it turns out to be counter-productive!

I can think of few clearer examples of religionazi lunacy, than this.

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