Christian Action League
On Wednesday, the Mental Health and Youth Services Committee considered HB 88 – The Healthy Youth Act (sex education bill), but did not vote on the measure.
The Bill that passed the House was essentially a compromise which creates a three-track system that allows parents to choose between three options: Abstinence until Marriage, Comprehensive Sex education, or Neither. The default when parents fail to choose between the three options would be “Neither.”
But Senator Martin Nesbitt (D-Buncombe) noted that some school administrators were unhappy with that plan. Nesbitt said they found it difficult to implement because the third group in the “Neither” category would create the need for additional classroom space and staff to monitor the students.
Nesbitt presented a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) to the House version, which changed the standard by default from “nether” to Comprehensive Sex Ed. He argued that the child of a parent who doesn’t send back the form at the beginning of the year probably needs the education more than a child of the parent who doesn’t. “In those situations where the family is not involved, we need to arm those children with as much education as we can give them so they can survive out there,” he said.
But does Comprehensive Sex Education really work? Not according to Dr. Joseph R. Zanga, a professor of Pediatrics at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. In a letter addressed to North Carolina lawmakers in 2007, Dr. Zanga, who also served at the Medical College of Virginia as Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on School Health, wrote the following about sex education:
“Among the things I have learned in all my AAP and other positions over the years is that children, even adolescents, have considerable respect for authority when authority figures are honest with them. Not all of them will do the things we ask them to do, but most will and will at least recognize that they may accepting some risk in not following our advice. That of course can only happen if we are indeed honest with them. We certainly are with respect to drugs and alcohol. They can be used “safely” but there is considerable risk and so we tell children not to use drugs rather than teaching them to use them “safely”. The same should be true with sexual activity. “Safe” sex is truly not safe and in fact as a now several year old CDC Report, and the even more timely monograph from the Medical Institute on Sexual Health, clearly demonstrate, it really isn’t “safer.” Even the American Academy of Pediatrics says that the only way to completely eliminate the risk of sexually transmitted disease is to practice abstinence. The “safe sex” message also ignores psychological trauma that promiscuity causes for our children. Condoms may have their place in the adult world, but I know that none of us want to expose children to the risks to which condoms leave them vulnerable.
Does abstinence education work? Of course it does. In Virginia I had experience (after years of unsuccessfully teaching condom use) as an abstinence educator, teaching seminars to adolescents. This is a message they rarely heard and a message that fortunately they were clearly hungry to hear. Project Respect in the inner schools of Chicago has shown considerable success in a short time, teaching abstinence to what many have termed a difficult population. While most of Africa continues to suffer from a rising tide of HIV infection, Uganda has seen their infection rate fall. The President and First Lady of that country credit their success to the fact that they have been teaching abstinence rather than safe sex, which is the norm throughout the rest of the continent. Some interestingly related items present themselves from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (volume 51). It notes that during these last 10 years when there have been increasing efforts on abstinence education, there has been a significant decline in adolescent sexual activity. In that same MMWR there is another article which again demonstrates the fallacy of condom education. That article, analyzing trends in “Primary and Secondary Syphilis among Men Who Have Sex with Men – New York City”, arguably a group which has received intensive condom education, notes that syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in this population.
I am not sure of the reason, but there really seems to be an “industry” out there which wants our children to be prematurely and promiscuously sexually active. In my thirty (30) years of pediatrics I have had more problem convincing young people to stay away from cigarettes and alcohol than I have convincing them to refrain from sex. Yet concerned citizens, physicians, and educators are all allied against the alcohol and tobacco industry to convince our children to abstain from these risky activities yet still take a dishonest and backward approach about sex…..
It is not known when the Senate Committee will take up HB 88 again and vote on it. Christian Action League supporters are urged to constantly watch for alerts on this issue.
Read Related Story: Comprehensive Sex-Ed Could Supplant Abstinence as the New Standard Curriculum