Saturday, January 07, 2006

Sex Education Paradox

Published 1-05-06

Anyone who read my “Sex Education Controversy” column here last week didn’t see the whole thing. Editors of two newspapers removed sections about controversial “workshops” presented to fourteen-year-olds in Massachusetts by state agencies. The workshops exposed students to sexual practices so bizarre that they couldn’t be printed here. The Boston Globe ignored those workshops, but it reported in a front-page, above-the-fold headline last month that teaching abstinence in school was “controversial.”

One editor emailed me, explaining: “I wanted to let you know I removed the portion of your column regarding “-------” While I see why you included it, it crossed the line regarding good taste and appropriateness for a community newspaper.” I understand the editor’s action, but it presents a paradox. I can’t name the practice here, even though it can be favorably described to fourteen-year-old public school students by state education officials paid with public funds. A search of the Globe’s archives showed no coverage of sex lessons anyone but the Marquis de Sade would consider outrageous. If you want to read an account, Google: “City Journal”; “Tufts” and “teach out” and you’ll hit on a comprehensive article describing what the Massachusetts Department of Education, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are pushing in schools across the country. Be prepared for a shock.

As usual, I gathered more material for the column than I could use in an 800-word piece. For example, sex education the way we know it originated with Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood. PP is the biggest abortion provider in the United States - performing nearly a quarter million in 2004, sixteen percent of the total and not including chemical abortions resulting from PP’s distribution of the “morning after pill” to teenagers at their clinics.
Although Margaret Sanger is a feminist hero, few realize that she was also a major promoter of eugenics - the selective breeding of human beings as if they were dogs, horses or cattle. Planned Parenthood is just a new name for the first organization Sanger founded in the 1930s - the “American Birth Control League.” To the governing board of her ABCL she appointed fellow eugenicists and admirers of Adolf Hitler like Lothrop Stoddard. In his book “The Nazi Connection,” Stephan Kuhl writes of him:

“[Stoddard] even met personally with Adolf Hitler. William L. Shirer, an American colleague who had been in Germany since 1934, complained that the Reich minister for propaganda [Joseph Goebbels] gave special preference to Stoddard because his writings on racial subjects were ‘featured in Nazi school textbooks.’ . . . Stoddard claimed in 1940 that the ‘Jew problem’ is ‘already settled in principle and soon to be settled in fact by the physical elimination of the Jews themselves from the Third Reich.’”

Stoddard was referring to the Holocaust - the ultimate eugenics program. In 1942, The ABCL changed its name to the “Planned Parenthood Federation of America” over Sanger’s objections. As Kuhl put it, the ABCL had a strong Nazi smell.
In the late 1960s, our two biggest teachers’ unions joined Planned Parenthood to push sex education in public schools. In last week’s column, I wrote that teen pregnancy rates have been skyrocketing ever since. Actually, it’s unwed teen pregnancies that have skyrocketed while total teen pregnancies have been declining. Up to about 1970, many teenagers tended to get married and raise their children in nuclear families. In 1970, only about 30% of all teenage births were to unwed mothers, but in 1990 about 70% were.

Thirteen-year-old girls show up at Planned Parenthood clinics for abortions after being impregnated by men several years older. State laws obligate Planned Parenthood to report such cases to human services agencies as sexual abuse or statutory rapes, but it seldom does. It also lobbies against laws in every state requiring them to notify parents when teenage girls seek abortions. This is the agency public schools across the country trust to design their sex education programs.

In spite of, or perhaps partly because of these programs, American teenagers are having sex more often, with more different partners, and at much younger ages than ever before. Consequently, sexually-transmitted diseases among teens are epidemic. Should we be surprised? Teens are bombarded with sex on television, in movies, in music and in advertising everywhere. When dancing, they simulate sex. The instruction they get at school is scrupulously values-neutral. They hear, “You really shouldn’t be having sex at your age, but we know you’re doing to anyway. So, here are several different ways it’s done, and here are some ways you can avoid getting pregnant while you’re doing it. Oh, and here’s how you put a condom on. Now I want you all to practice on these bananas until the bell rings.”

Teaching sex in a moral vacuum strongly implies to kids that morality has no place in sexual behavior. If that’s the only way it’s delivered, perhaps the schools would be better off not teaching it at all. Or, maybe it should be an extra-curricular, after-school activity that parents could choose for their children if they didn’t want to teach it at home. If schools continue to teach it during the regular school day, how about using at least half the time to teach them some effective abstinence strategies along with all the “how tos”?

Nah, too controversial.

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