Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pre-Marital Sex is “stinking, filthy, dirty, rotten sin”

Just as with police brutality stories, I stopped covering abstinence only stories some while ago. (See sidebar) But how could I resist when I came across such Talibangelical inspired dogma as that featured in the header?

And the owner of such an attitude? Not as you might think, a misogynist Baptist (Republican) preacher, but rather a woman charged with designing and implementing abstinence education guidelines. Just what you need!

. . . . 1. Abstinence-Only Education Relies on Spirituality and Moralizing, not Social/Behavioral Theories

The “A-H” points which define federally acceptable abstinence-education, and the curriculums designed around those points, seem to be based not on peer reviewed social/behavioral theoretical models—but on the spiritual and moral world-views of the persons who were given authority to conceive, implement, and fund abstinence-only sex education programs (4). Consider the following example. During his first term, then-President Bush appointed a woman named Pam Stenzel to an influential task force at the Department of Health and Human Services which was charged with designing and implementing abstinence education guidelines. For Stenzel, social/behavioral theories and scientifically rigorous research are the not the foundations on which to build an education program. The reason why society should not condone pre-marital sex? Because, she says, it is “stinking, filthy, dirty, rotten sin” (4). Stenzel continues:

What [they] are asking is does [abstinence-only education] work. You know what? Doesn’t matter. Cause guess what. My job is not to keep teenagers from having sex. The public schools’ job should not be to keep teens from having sex. Our job should be to tell kids the truth! People of God...commit yourself to truth, not what works! I don’t care if it works, because at the end of the day I’m not answering to you, I’m answering to God. . . AIDS is not the enemy. HPV and a hysterectomy at twenty is not the enemy. An unplanned pregnancy is not the enemy. My child believing that they can shake their fist in the face of a holy God and sin without consequence, and my child spending eternity separated from God, is the enemy. I will not teach my child that they can sin safely (4).

Unfortunately, Stenzel and her cohort are not teaching only their own children, but millions of American young people who deserve sex education based on empirical evidence, not moral zealotry. While it may be possible to frame various abstinence-only curriculums as having some connection to industry-accepted social/behavioral theories, the attitude that Stenzel exemplifies is one of obsession with personal beliefs about spirituality and morals. more challengingdogma

This article was linked from a contemporary piece in the Guardian: How Obama's healthcare reform boosted abstinence-only sex education

. . . In Tennessee, for instance, a bill that passed the house and senate in April 2012 specifies that teachers must "exclusively and emphatically" endorse abstinence, or face a $500 fine. The bill stipulates that contraceptives may be discussed only as an inferior means of preventing pregnancy and disease. The bill also allows parents to sue public school teachers and staff for allowing students to engage in what is bizarrely termed "gateway sexual behavior" – such as holding hands or hugging.

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