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With Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Failing Teens, Teens Fight Back

With Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Failing Teens, Teens Fight Back

We’ve known for years now that abstinence-only sex education has been ineffective, doing little to convince teens to wait longer to engage in sexual intercourse and virtually guaranteeing that when they do have sex, they don’t do it in safe ways that prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. In fact, the biggest success in many of these programs lately is to make teens feel ashamed of themselves.

One young woman in Canada, however, has decided she had enough. Faced with a mandatory class she had to take in order to graduate high school (one that allegedly told her that “most boys have HPV under their fingernails, gonorrhea can kill you in just three days, and girls need to dress modestly to avoid tempting boys,” according to Think Progress), Emily Dawson and her mother filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Abstinence only sex ed classes and programs often use fear and shame, coupled with a hefty dose of sexism and girl-blaming to push its message for no sex ever outside of marriage. From telling students premarital sex will kill them to telling girls that if they aren’t virgins they are like used chewing gum. But the tactics have little positive effect on the teen sex rate, other than to leave an enormous number of teen girls so confused about their own bodies that many are claiming they are pregnant without ever even having sexual intercourse. When it fails, as it often does, the schools do all they can to close their eyes and pretend it didn’t happen.

Sometimes, however, you can’t simply hide the failures. Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is running for the Senate seat against Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu., is a sponsor of the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act of 2013. He’s also nearly a grandfather, as his own 17-year-old daughter is due by the end of the summer. While Cassidy advocates mandating schools withhold sex ed until students are at least 12, and then only teach “the skills and benefits of sexual abstinence as the optimal sexual health behavior for youth; and.. the benefits of refraining from nonmarital sexual activity, the advantage of reserving sexual activity for marriage, and the foundational components of a healthy relationship,” comprehensive sex education could have potentially changed the life of his daughter, assuming that the pregnancy was unintended.

That’s the message from Lucy Flores, Nevada representative, who is currently running for lieutenant governor, shared when she told her own story of being pregnant at age 16. Flores obtained an abortion, something she feels no regrets over, and used that experience to advocate for comprehensive sex ed in schools during a contentious spring legislative session in 2013.

“I shared that story because I felt it was relevant to the importance of sex education in Nevada schools, and my belief that our children need to be armed with good information in order to make good choices,” Flores said in April of 2013, after emotional testimony at the capitol in Reno.

“I learned from the very little education that I received in school and again, through relationships that I had growing up,” testified Flores in support of comprehensive sex ed.”I had six other sisters, all of them became pregnant in their teens all of them,” Flores said. “One was 14 years old when she got pregnant with twins. That is what I had to learn from…Now in retrospect, if I could go back and be on birth control or better yet learn to fill my life with something else, other than having the attention of a man in the non-healthy relationship, I would have preferred to do that, if someone would have talked to me about it.”

We already know that denying teens and pre-teens accurate and age appropriate information regarding sex can lead to unwanted pregnancy and preventable sexual health issues. Now, thanks to one teen in Canada, inaccurate, sexist and medically and emotionally harmful abstinence only education is actually being called out for what it is — a potential human rights violation. Perhaps we can do the same here as well.

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10:27AM PDT on Jul 23, 2014

ty for this important article

1:30PM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

Judie-IF you teach them the truth about birth control and condoms AND THE FACT THAT they don't stop pregnancies or stds 100% and show them why abstinence will work, you will cut down on children having children, no it's not 100% but it's better than the lie their being told now

Original Message:

Judie left a comment on the following article:
With Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Failing Teens, Teens Fight Back
Darryll G., IF you teach teens that only truly safe sex is abstinence from sex until they establish a monogamous relationship, they will be protected from sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, you MIGHT get one out of a hundred to give you the courtesy of appearing to listen. The likelihood, with their raging hormones, that they'll take it into account and decide that abstinence, until a monogamous relationship is established, is the only way to go is probably about the same as a Republican voting to increase taxes for the wealthy, increase funding for welfare and school lunch programs, and vociferously proclaiming that the ACA is the best thing since sliced bread. I stand by my convictions.

7:18AM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

Thank you

3:44AM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

I have always thought it best to set low expectations and not be disappointed. and since "..." could mean so many things that does not prevent the teaching of the full sex education curriculum and not certain we have enough information to comment, other than the fact that a recent studies by the U.K.’s largest abortion provider revealed that fully two-thirds of women who sought to abort unwanted infants at their facilities were using contraceptives when they became pregnant. And how is a 17 year old that has been provided the information that is okay, and has become pregnant not proof that they have not developed the right message yet?

9:58AM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

Marc P
“Carole L.: I grew up in farm country and knew a kid that learned sex from watching farm animals. That boy now has an IQ of about 60 - The cow kicked him in the head....”

he must have thought it was a hands on event.

Vasu M
“This is God's will -- your sanctification, that you keep yourselves from sexual immorality, that each of you learn how to take his own wife in purity and honor, not in lustful passion like the gentiles who have no knowledge of God." (I Thessalonians 4:3-5)”

yes, keep it missionary style and if for a nanu second the woman appears to enjoy it stop immediately. We wouldn't want her to immorally lust after her husband.

9:10AM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

Susan T. just demonstrates the religious hatred of sexual expression.

8:45AM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

Abstinence only is not education it's a path to parenthood.

7:33AM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

Heather G., because the majority who believes sex education is encouraging teens to have sex, or a push for abortion, had abstinence-only education and never learned anything about sex and were raised to be ashamed of their bodies.

7:03AM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

Why does educating children about the reality of sex get equated with "encouraging teens to have sex" or to "marketing ploys" to push abortion?

5:01AM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

good info

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