By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH – The so-called “Healthy Youth Act,” House Bill 88, filed last week in the N.C. General Assembly, would lead Tar Heel youngsters down a very unhealthy path when it comes to sex.
Sponsored by representatives Bob England, Alma Adams, Susan Fisher and W.A. Wilkins and endorsed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization Equality North Carolina, the legislation would remove Abstinence Until Marriage sex education as the standard for the state and create a two-track system whereby, unless their parents intervened, seventh-through ninth-graders would be instructed on how to use more than a dozen contraceptives ranging from condoms to morning-after pills.
“The question with sex education is do we want to equip our young people to have sex – encouraging them that everyone else is doing it and so they need to understand every possible activity and every far-from-full-proof method to avoid pregnancy; or do we want to equip them to choose abstinence and enjoy the only sure way to avoid not only STDs and pregnancy, but the emotional damage brought on by premarital sex?” said the Rev. Mark Creech, Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. “Our kids deserve our best guidance; we can’t sell them short.”
John L. Rustin, Vice President and Director of Government Relations for the North Carolina Family Policy Council, compared the bill’s promotion of Comprehensive Sex Ed to the “no tolerance” policies that schools have regarding tobacco, alcohol and drug use.
“Our public schools teach adolescents and teens about the harms associated with these substances and strongly discourage students from using tobacco, alcohol and drugs. We would never accept an approach that assumes students are going to smoke, drink and do drugs and therefore should be educated about all the forms of tobacco products, alcohol and illicit drugs; how those different substances can be ingested, injected, inhaled or otherwise consumed; and how students can ‘reduce the risk of harm’ should they choose to engage in these high risk behaviors,” Rustin wrote in an issue brief. “Why, then, would we accept such an approach when teaching our adolescents and teens about sex, as House Bill 88 proposes?”
Rustin points out that the bill’s two-track approach whereby students would be taught comprehensive sex ed unless their parents sent back a signed directive choosing the abstinence track, is unnecessary since the state’s current laws allow for schools to offer instruction beyond the required AUM (abstinence until marriage) as long as they follow the proper procedures to make curriculum available for viewing and hold a public hearing.
Even though the current law has been in place for more than a decade, fewer than a dozen of the state’s 115 local school systems have chosen to expand their sex ed programs, an indicator that the majority of schools support the abstinence until marriage approach.
Though proponents insist that parents want their children to receive comprehensive sex ed, Rustin points out that if there were a public outcry for more information than AUM includes, school systems could simply hold the hearings and move on to comprehensive without putting into place two tracks as Bill 88 would require.
National studies, such as a December 2003 poll by Zogby International, show American parents support the themes and messages of authentic abstinence programs. Specifically, the Zogby poll showed that 91 percent of parents want teens to be taught that “The best choice is for sexual intercourse to be linked to love, intimacy and commitment. These qualities are most likely to occur in a faithful marriage.”
Under current North Carolina law, “abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage is the expected standard for all school-age children.” But under House Bill 88, with comprehensive sex ed as the default curriculum, the goal changes to “abstinence from sexual intercourse,” suggesting to students that they can engage in any non-intercourse sexual activity without fear of contracting HIV/AIDS and STDs.
The change would move North Carolina policy from “one that focuses on ‘risk elimination’ through abstinence to one that focuses on ‘risk reduction,’ through the use of condoms and contraceptives, and, as a result, would potentially place our students at great harm,” Rustin wrote.
Another standard that would change regards how marriage is esteemed. While the AUM curriculum teaches the fact that “a mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS,” the new curriculum would teach “respect for marriage and committed relationships,” opening the door to present unmarried heterosexual relationships as well as homosexual, bisexual and multi-partner relationships on the same footing as marriage.
In addition to welcoming the homosexual agenda, the bill would also allow for the instruction on various forms of contraceptives to include introduction to Planned Parenthood and other like organizations that provide birth control and abortion services.
“This bill is dangerous on several fronts and we hope Christian parents across the state ask their lawmakers to vote against it,” said the Rev. Creech. “The bill labels the comprehensive sex ed as ‘abstinence-based’ but this is truly a misnomer.”
A 2004 study by The Heritage Foundation showed that so-called “abstinence-plus” curricula devote 4.75 percent of page content to abstinence as opposed to authentic abstinence programs where 53.7 percent is the norm.
“While comprehensive sex-ed curricula do inform students that abstinence is the ‘safest choice,’ they repeatedly represent teen sex with contraception as safe. Thus, the overall message given to teens is merely that abstinence is marginally safer than protected sex,” the study showed.
While the Zogby poll showed that 90 percent of parents want sex ed programs to teach kids to abstain at least until they have finished high school, comprehensive curricula undermines this concept through repeated examples that show teen sexual activity is OK as long as contraception is used.
“Call it what you will, ‘abstinence-based comprehensive sex ed’ is simply a repackaging of the ‘safe-sex’ approach. And when it comes to teens or even 12-year-olds that would be taught this in 7th grade, there is no such thing as ‘safe’ sex,” the Rev. Creech said. “We must teach our kids the truth.”