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Radical SIECUS not happy

Just as gay rights activists seamlessly moved beyond the "leave us alone" strategy to demanding wholesale alterations in the culture and laws of America and civilization itself, sex education advocates have openly transcended their initial goals of educating youth about reproductive biology and contraception to favor similar radical changes. Some sex ed promoters, like many gay activists and feminists, now oppose teaching students that marriage is the ideal forum for sexuality. They criticize the notion that people can limit their sexual impulses at all.

The Bush Administration released an excellent set of grant criteria for its Community-Based Abstinence Education Program (CBAE) on January 26. The Health and Human Services Department’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will distribute $24 million to encourage young people to practice abstinence until marriage.

In response, on February 16, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), which has been trying to liberalize sex education for years, sent out a press release criticizing the program. Most Americans would likely be astonished by two of the criticisms:

  • SIECUS opposes trying to "promote marriage."
  • The ACF program, because it "teaches that sexual desires are natural and controllable and that individuals are capable of making choices to abstain from sexual activity."

The promotion of marriage is bad, and telling kids they can control themselves is bad. This is how far the sex education movement has gone. Needless to say, SIECUS is also irritated by the Bush Administration’s upholding of heterosexuality as the norm.

Reaffirm Traditional Morality

ACF’s abstinence-only guidelines for this program reaffirm traditional morality, the same morality that millennia of history have shown promote happiness and stability for the vast majority of people, while ensuring the future of society. It also contains disease, which is now spreading exponentially among American youth, thanks in part to SIECUS and other sex educators who tell children not to be chaste and that condoms will always protect them. Instead, ACF, headed by fatherhood advocate Dr. Wade Horn, says: "Today’s youth are bombarded by implicit and explicit messages that promote sexual activity before and outside of marriage. Unfortunately, teens receive less information about the physical and emotional benefits that they may find by having one lifelong sexual partner within marriage."

ACF plans to send its $24 million to programs with rational messages that most American parents want their teenagers to hear. The successful grant applicant will tell youth the truth about contraceptives — they often fail to prevent pregnancy and disease — rather than the myths that sex educators want communicated. The CBAE guidelines also want grantees to teach the psychological benefits of abstinence, stating the time-honored truths that "sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects" and that "bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society."

Most politically incorrectly of all, the guidelines demand a program that "Teaches that the expected standard for sexual activity is within the context of a mutually monogamous marriage relationship between a man and a woman. Teaches that healthy human sexuality involves enduring fidelity, love and commitment; human happiness and well-being are associated with a stable, loving marriage. Teaches that non-marital sex can undermine the capacity for healthy marriage, love and commitment."

ACF’s claims about abstinence, marriage, and happiness aren’t any greater than those of anti-smoking activists: Refraining is likely to lead to greater happiness and health for you, your family, and society.

HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt got a letter from one of the most liberal members of Congress the same day SIECUS launched its critique. Rep. Henry Waxman (D.-Calif.) wrote: "Under the new guidelines, funding for abstinence education will be awarded based on ideology, not the effectiveness of programs in reducing teen sexual activity, teen pregnancy, and teen sexually [transmitted] disease rates."

Perhaps it’s time for a return to some old-fashioned restraint.

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Written By

Mr. D'Agostino, former associate editor of HUMAN EVENTS, is vice president for Communications at the Population Research Institute.

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