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Some Blog I Wrote

stuff i think about and then type on a keyboard

Monday, May 23, 2005

Separation of Church, State, Penis, and Vagina

Last night, 60 Minutes ran a piece about what I'll call the "Abstinence Movement." The federal government is dumping money into programs that (in at least one case, literally) preach abstinence. The piece covered Silver Ring Thing, a faith-based movement that asks teenagers to pledge not to have sex until marriage. Also covered was the growing number of abstinence programs offered in public schools throughout the country. In both cases, abstinence is taught at the total expense of safe sex. In the case of the Choosing The Best curriculum taught at schools with the help of $4 million in federal aid, the percentages of safe sex failure are to be highlighted instead of the percentages of success.

My biggest discomfort with Silver Ring Thing was that the program's founder, Danny Pattyn, eschewed condoms and safe sex. The best cults be they secular or religious always try to set up an Eschewable Other to be dismissed or hated "because the cult says so." He said he would tell his own daughter not to bother with a condom. If he meant this in the context of one facing the consequences of one's actions, I see his point. Regardless of the context, what he said touches on my biggest issue with this movement.

To what extent are the parents of these pledgers involved? Do so many of them hope that sending their kids to a Silver Ring Thing seminar or to a Choosing The Best class will be enough to scare them away from premarital sex? While both programs offer tools for parents, knowing the current state of family politics in this country, I find this as yet another opportunity for parents to passively-aggressively deal with their children's problems. These are faith-based movements being backed by the federal government (for the time being), so once again, we have government-sponsored programs instructing children on sexuality at the possible expense of parental involvement. Remember that federal funding would likely be revoked should safe sex be taught. Instead of a more progressive safe sex program that pundits on the right would decry as a "wacko far left agenda to encourage kids to have sex whenever they wanted", this is a right-leaning sex program that pushes abstinence but offers no fail-safe.

The secular part of my brain says abstinence and safe sex should be taught and urged if only for the sake of public heath, and the religious part of my brain thinks families should be more open about sexuality and use it in the context of religious teachings. Abstinence for the sake of the same sense of "cool" as used in the context of promiscuity is never going to work.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:00 AM
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