He calls proponents of abstinence “select religious leaders and ideologically very narrow advocates”
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League of North Carolina
Despite new evidence that abstinence-until-marriage (AUM) education is working to help teens delay sex, at least one state lawmaker spoke out late last month promoting comprehensive sex ed (CSE) and giving clues of the legislative battle to come.
According to the Fayetteville Observer, Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) told a group of about a dozen parents April 29 that “select religious leaders and ideologically very narrow advocates” were keeping the state from adopting comprehensive sex ed and that children were being exposed to diseases as a result.
What he didn’t tell them is that a report released by The Heritage Foundation exactly a week before his speech analyzed findings from 21 studies of AUM programs and found 16 of the 21 showed statistically significant positive results including delayed sexual initiation and reduced levels of early sexual activity.
“CSE advocates continue to promote the lie that AUM education doesn’t work, despite the growing body of research that shows that authentic AUM programs are effective at helping teens delay sexual activity and avoid other risky behaviors,” said John Rustin, vice president and director of government relations for the North Carolina Family Policy Council on the group’s Web site.
When asked by the Christian Action League, via e-mail, if he were aware of the recent AUM study, Glazier did not respond; nor did he return a phone call about the issue.
According to The Heritage Foundation report, studies show that “abstinent teens report, on average, better psychological well-being and higher academic achievement than those who are sexually active” and “delaying the initiation of or reducing early sexual activity among teens can decrease their overall exposure to risks of unwed childbearing, STDs and psycho-emotional harm.”
Among the abstinence programs that reported positive changes were Reasons of the Heart, Sex Can Wait, Heritage Keepers, For Keeps, Best Friends, Not Me Not Now, Abstinence by Choice, HIV Risk-Reduction Intervention, Stay SMART, Project Taking Charge, Teen Aid and Sex Respect.
The Heritage Foundation isn’t the only organization reporting the success of abstinence until marriage education. Dr. Stan Weed, director of the Institute for Research and Evaluation, has studied more than 100 AUM programs.
“Emerging evidence supports the notion that abstinence-centered strategies, if well-designed and implemented, can significantly and substantially reduce teen sexual initiation for periods of 1 to 2 years and thereby may positively impact the health of American adolescents,” Weed told the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during hearings last month.
In spite of the findings, Glazier and others who last year sponsored the Modify School Health Education Program bill will likely bring the issue back in the coming short session.
“The possibility of the passage of this legislation is very frightening to me,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “What makes any of us believe for a moment we can say something different than what God says about sex and expect that approach to be successful in protecting our children. Does God say, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery, but if you do make sure you wear protection.’ Does he say, ‘Flee youthful lusts, but if you can’t control your libido, then wear a condom.’ No, God simply says to his children, ‘Thou shalt not!’ What part of ‘Thou shalt not’ do we not understand? I suggest God takes this position because ultimately there is no real protection for promiscuity. What God commands his children is what we ought to be telling our own,” he said.
“Not stopping at eliminating outright the requirement that abstinence until marriage be taught as an accepted standard, House Bill 879 and Senate Bill 1182 would eliminate every mention of ‘abstinence until marriage’ from North Carolina law,” said Minority Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake). “It would force all North Carolina schools to teach strict requirements, among them teachers and instructional materials would have to address ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ without bias. Students as young as 7th grade, and possibly earlier, would be forced to be taught about all FDA-approved methods of contraception including ‘emergency contraceptives’ and at least 21 other forms of contraception.”
Perhaps most revealing about comprehensive sex ed is the fact that the bill is being pushed by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups like EqualityNC and also by the abortion industry, NARAL Pro Choice North Carolina and Planned Parenthood.
While the bills’ supporters say most North Carolina parents would welcome comprehensive sex ed if it weren’t for narrow-minded religious types in Raleigh, the truth is that even under current law local school boards can expand their sex ed programs after holding a public hearing, making curriculum available for public review and allowing parents to opt out their children if they wish. Fewer than 10 of the state’s 115 school systems have chosen to do so.
The proposed bill would actually circumvent parental input. And no wonder. According to conclusions in The Heritage Foundation study, eighty percent of parents want schools to teach youths to abstain from sexual activity approaching marriage.
“In the classroom, the prevailing mentality often condones teen sexual activity as long as youths use contraceptives,” researchers concluded. “Sadly, many teens who need to learn about the benefits of abstaining from sexual activity during the teenage years never hear them, and many students who choose to abstain fail to receive adequate support for their decisions.”