The Christian right has public school teens in a purse string stranglehold. They, along with their Republican allies have been able to channel much needed health education money into pro-abstinence organizations.
Catholic Charities alone received $2.5 million of the $9.3 million given to New York state in 2004 for sexual education funding. As the under-funded No Child Left Behind Act forces schools to cut health programs in favor of testing-based curricula, students are often left with just abstinence only education.
Judith Levine of Sexuality Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS) argues that there is a natural tendency of abstinence educators to escalate their messages: “Like advertising, which must continually jack up its seduction just to stay visible as other advertising proliferates, abstinence education had to make sex scarier and scarier and, at the same time, chastity sweeter.”
Here is a sampling of the organizations and the rhetoric that shapes our national education policy:
Concerned Women for America
“It’s time for the message of sexual purity to be sounded in the United States once again. Concerned Women for America is calling upon all legislators, parents, and educators to promote abstinence throughout this nation.”
Focus on the Family
“For most of the past several decades, liberal sex-education organizations
such as Planned Parenthood and Sexuality Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS) have had a philosophical monopoly in public school sex-education programs. With the implementation of Title V of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, these groups saw an end to their monopoly. Title V allocates $250 million ($50 million per year for five years) for states to teach abstinence until marriage. SIECUS and friends have not been happy about Title V.”
Family Research Council
“The Family Research Council (FRC) champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family.
“Teens are greatly influenced by the messages they receive about sex in school. Unfortunately, the majority of schools teach ‘safe sex’— comprehensive’ or so-called ‘abstinence plus’ programs—believing that it’s best for kids to have all the information they need about sexuality and to make their own decisions about sex.
Abstinence is downplayed while sexual activity and condom use are encouraged in these curriculums, because it’s assumed that children are eventually going to have sex.”
Citizens for Excellence in Education
“Public school teens and even preteens face tremendous peer pressure to become sexually active. The schools teach, ‘just be sure to use condoms and be on the pill.’ Result: Christian children face a double standard, with heavy peer pressure, many succumb, with tragic pregnancies, babies, lives and careers ruined. Enormous family pain results, often causing divorce.
“Parents find they have far less control over their child’s friends and peers and the resulting influence on their child’s attitude toward sin, homosexuality, the occult, sex and drugs in the public schools.”
American Family Association
“Parents, we cannot afford to misjudge sin’s potential. Training should begin early. Boys must be taught to care for their eyes and mind. Girls must understand how easily they can become the object of pursuit—and that by lowering their standards and raising their skirts, they only fuel the imagination and drive of the opposite sex.”
The Alpha Center
The Alpha Center provides abstinence programs (including Lady in
Waiting and The Bride Wore White) to churches and schools, pregnancy testing, post-abortion counseling, parenting classes, a speakers bureau, medical agency referrals, relationship counseling, a resource library, and sponsors events such as God, Mom & Me Teas, and the Memorial for the Unborn.
Abstinence Clearing House
“The Clearinghouse houses the only Sex, Love and Relationship Store in the country, where posters, books, jewelry, pencils and numerous other items are available for purchase.”
Medical Institute (for Sexual Health)
“True abstinence includes avoiding genital contact until marriage. Some have proposed mutual masturbation and ‘outer course’ as healthy and safe alternatives for single people. These activities are not consistent with the abstinent lifestyle. Sexual activity, such as these, can not only result in both pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, but can also lead to sexual intercourse.”
All quotations are taken from materials from their own organizational materials. Research done with assistance from SIECUS.