Christian Group Opposes Telling Children the Truth About Sex

Here’s what I know about Senate Bill 1619, filed recently by Illinois State Senator Heather A. Steans:

  • It calls for comprehensive sex education, while supporting abstinence:

    Each class or course in comprehensive sex education offered in any of grades 6 through 12 shall include instruction on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS…

    All public elementary, junior high, and senior high school classes that teach sex education and discuss sexual intercourse shall emphasize that abstinence is the expected norm in that abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only protection that is 100% effective against unwanted teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) when transmitted sexually.

  • It promotes medically-accurate, age-appropriate information:

    Course material and instruction shall be developmentally and age appropriate, medically accurate, and complete.

    Course material and instruction shall replicate evidence-based programs or substantially incorporate elements of evidence-based programs.

  • It doesn’t support marriage equality:

    Course material and instruction shall teach honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage.

  • It’s not mandatory for any child:

    No pupil shall be required to take or participate in any class or course in comprehensive sex education if his parent or guardian submits written objection thereto, and refusal to take or participate in such course or program shall not be reason for suspension or expulsion of such pupil.

The bill’s not great. I don’t know why the government should be supporting “monogamous heterosexual marriage” in lieu of other lifestyle choices. Not to mention that not every monogamous heterosexual couple automatically deserves respect.

At least the idea of the bill is a good one. We need proper, better sex education in health classes. Don’t we want children to be more educated about the subject?

Of course not, says the Illinois Family Institute. Laurie Higgins is fuming about it.

SB 1619, otherwise known by its obfuscatory title, “Personal Responsibility Education Act,” is yet another attempt by legislator-ideologues to use public money to normalize sexual immorality and perversion by inculcating children and teens with subjectivist, relativist assumptions about sexuality.

Those damn hippie legislators want to use evidence-based programs? NEVER!

[The bill r]emoves a provision that requires all public elementary, junior high, and senior high school classes that teach sex education and discuss sexual intercourse to emphasize that abstinence is the expected norm.

There’s nothing “abnormal” about not being abstinent. It’s a choice everyone has to make for themselves. Schools would be doing students a service by letting them know the truth about the consequences of having sex — you could get pregnant. You could get a disease. There may be emotional consequences. There’s also the possibility that nothing bad could happen at all.

And who knew “comprehensive sex ed” was such a dirty phrase?

The truth is comprehensive sex ed is incomprehensive, distorted and propelled by a subversive sexual ethic. Comprehensive sex educators seek to tell kids everything possible about sex except of course anything that challenges their subjectivist, relativist presuppositions and libertine social and political goals.

What?! Not EVERYTHING POSSIBLE! I thought educators were supposed to limit students’ knowledge. I’ve been teaching Math all wrong…

She then selectively lists the horrible, awful things these evil “comprehenders” want to teach children (PDF) — courtesy of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (not an official government organization, for what it’s worth). You can click on the image to enlarge it:

Umm… yep. All of those things are factually true. And the earlier children learn it, the better off they’ll be.

Gay people do, in fact, exist. And they can be in committed relationships. (Even if the bigots won’t allow them to get married.)

Guys and girls masturbate. But you shouldn’t do it while sitting on the school bus in front of other people. (That’s just good manners, really.)

Vaginal intercourse is — surprise! — the most common way to make a baby. (Second most common way to make a baby? Deep fried.)

By the time children get to high school, what does SIECUS suggest they know? Here’s what Laurie selectively highlights:

Again, most everything on there is factually true or just good advice.

Except for one: “Young teenagers are not mature enough for a sexual relationship that includes intercourse.” Really? No doubt most of them aren’t. But I’d guess that there are a few of them with more maturity than some college students or adults who jump into sexual relationships.

In any case, that one line sounds like advice that ought to be geared toward younger kids, who are discovering their sexuality for the first time…

Oh wait. It is.

Laurie lists that as an item in the “Ages 15-18″ category.

But SIECUS actually lists that as a Level 3 item (for ages 12-15), where it might actually make more sense.

Deliberate distortion? Or just another example of a Christian group not double-checking readily-available facts?

(It probably doesn’t matter. Who needs facts when you have Jesus on your side?)

Laurie’s recommendation at the end of all this?

Illinoisans should oppose this bill like their kids’ lives depend on it.

She’s wrong.

We need to support this bill like our kids’ lives depend on it.

They need good information. Factual information. Relevant information.

The abstinence-only, no-sex-before-marriage, don’t-touch-another-person-that-way, homos-won’t-exist-if-we-don’t-acknowledge-them, lame excuse for abstinence-only sex education has made students across the country all the more ignorant and irresponsible.

If they want to wait until marriage or be sexually active, that’s their choice. But they deserve to know the truth about what they’re stepping into in both cases.

The Illinois Family Institute (and all the other Christian Right groups) don’t want that. They think children are too immature to make decisions like that for themselves. They believe parents should control their kids’ genitalia until they’re marrying their opposite-sex spouse. (See Purity Balls.)

There’s no reason to oppose this sensible bill. If you live in Illinois, here’s a way (via Planned Parenthood) to contact your state senator so you can urge them to support SB 1619.

  • http://pinkydead.blogspot.com David McNerney

    the government should be supporting “monogamous heterosexual marriage” in lieu of other lifestyle choices

    Oh they should – or more correctly, they shouldn’t be involving themselves in people’s relationships unless they have a vested interest. And really the best way to ensure demographic and, consequentially, economic growth is through heterosexual sex which is the most common way for vaginal intercourse to happen.

    And a monogamous marriage (of any type) is a good way to ensure a stable environment for a child to develop in.

    So heterosexual monogamous marriage is the government’s best option. (Though ‘honor’ and ‘respect’ aren’t good words here – ‘positive benefits’ would be better.)

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    I can’t believe that the Cult of Christian Ignorance is so powerful. Have you no torches and pitchforks to drive them away?

  • Iason Ouabache

    No no. We mustn’t let the children know that homosexuals exist. Otherwise they might get the idea that homosexuals are real people who deserve rights!

  • TheG

    Is it wrong that I find the phrase “incomprehensive, distorted and propelled by a subversive sexual ethic” to be a perfect description of the Abrahamic religions?

  • http://therearethornstoo.blogspot.com/ Denise

    I support the underlying idea beneath this bill…but I resent that people are trying to pass it off as comprehensive sex education. It is glorified abstinence-plus sex education. The moment you see a phrase like, “abstinence is the expected norm”, that is your clue. Comprehensive sex education notes that abstinence is the only sure-fire way to prevent unintended pregnancies and STDs, but it does *not* promote it as an expected norm. *grumbling*

    What I want to see, and I’ll need to look at the bill next to what is presently taught in public schools to determine this, is how the state presents success/failure rates of condoms and birth control methods. That is another clue to how “comprehensive” is defined. Comprehensive sex ed is totally neutral and fact-based. Abstinence-based (whether AOUM or abstinence-plus) emphasizes abstinence as an expectation or normative with failure rates of contraceptive management offered as statistical evidence in favor of abstinence. This is a hot-button topic for me.

    Fifty years ago, the “Christian” movement didn’t have any real problem with comprehensive sex ed, since they figured that most teenagers were getting married at some (relatively soon) point anyway, so the more they knew the better. Today, the neoconservative movement, which is comprised predominately of radical-right “Christians”, detests anything that promotes sexual health in a positive light. Anything that shows realistic depictions of human anatomy is considered lewd and “pornographic” (Helllllooooo Comstock laws) and that “children” shouldn’t even think about sex in any sense, much less a positive one. Yet they wonder why the unplanned teen pregnancy & STD rates are on the rise.

    *muttering*

  • TheG

    they shouldn’t be involving themselves in people’s relationships unless they have a vested interest. And really the best way to ensure demographic and, consequentially, economic growth is through heterosexual sex which is the most common way for vaginal intercourse to happen.

    And a monogamous marriage (of any type) is a good way to ensure a stable environment for a child to develop in.

    So heterosexual monogamous marriage is the government’s best option. (Though ‘honor’ and ‘respect’ aren’t good words here – ‘positive benefits’ would be better.)

    Unfortunately, David, that makes the unfounded assumption that any live birth is beneficial to society. I can name any number of common situations that are beneficial to only a few (or, arguably, only the individual born). “Heterosexual monogamous marriage” is beneficial only if you can prove the underlying assumptions of the three parts to it are sound and you can provide evidence.

    1) Heterosexual – Is there something innately beneficial to society when a child is born to a heterosexual relationship? Does the mere act of vaginal intercourse provide a special boon to a recently born individual or society?

    2) Monogamous – Why does there only have to be two people in the relationship producing an offspring? If you can show there is a societal benefit, can the government regulate polygamous or polyamorous relationships that do provide benefit? Can they stop monogamous relationships that are detrimental? Does this violate the general societal concept of autonomy? How does the violation benefit “economic growth”?

    3) Marriage – Why does a legal contract always or even often promote the betterment of society and the economy? How does a religious sanctification increase demographic growth other than the “no-doy” edict to “be fruitful and multiply”? Other than the wedding and divorce attorney industries, how does the economy improve with marriage?

    4) What is so specifically advantageous about the combination of the previous three soft claims? How is it better than a heterosexual polygamist marriage? Why does the government have an interest in a homosexual monogamous lifelong commitment?
    (Please keep in mind, these questions are coming from a married monogamous heterosexual with only about 24 weeks until I experience the joys of the screaming, pooping, needing-vaccines, sleep-draining results of a heterosexual monogamous marriage…)

  • http://aussieunionist.blogspot.com Aussie Unionist

    I really love not living in America – Australian teenagers actually get proper sex education because it’s not some scary boogie man.

  • Claudia

    [The bill r]emoves a provision that requires all public elementary, junior high, and senior high school classes that teach sex education and discuss sexual intercourse to emphasize that abstinence is the expected norm.

    That might be because, in a country where 9 out of 10 people aren’t virgins at the time of marriage, it’s not the expected norm.

    90% of people aren’t virgins before marriage. In a country like the US, even assuming every single non-Christian was happily humping away, that means that the vast majority of Christians also engage in sex before marriage. The study only counts vaginal intercourse, so it’s probably an understatement, since it won’t count those Christians who bizarrely think that they count as virgins if they “only” have oral and/or anal sex.

    I’ve been preserving the shit out of my boyfriend’s virginity for 14 years now. If my boyfriend ever decides to marry a woman—miracles can happen!—he’ll be able to wear white at his wedding. Hell, he’s so pure he can wear Saran Wrap at his wedding. And his wife will have me to thank for delivering him to her with his virginity intact. – Dan Savage

  • stogoe

    Except for one: “Young teenagers are not mature enough for a sexual relationship that includes intercourse.” Really?

    I thought that was weird, too, but then I figured it meant “Don’t chat up 12 and 13 year olds when you’re in high school*”, which I agree with.

    *or older, obviously.

  • Robert L.

    I hate all this “no sex before marriage” stuff. It makes me sick to think that there is something innate in an artificial social construct (i.e. marriage) that supposedly legitimises sex, and that renders pre-marital sex illegitimate by implication.

    Everyone has the right to free action as long as in doing so he/she does not cause harm to another (this is the basic principle of human rights, if I’m not wrong); given that we only have this one chance on Earth since there’s no afterlife or reincarnation, I think it’s cruel and unjust to deny people a portion of this right by delegitimising pre-marital sex and stigmatising those who participate in it, especially if said denial is based on nothing more substantial than the words of a book that is likely to be nothing more than the the world’s earliest (and most influential) fiction anthology.

    Here’s an analogy for those in favour of abstinence: Imagine if people were going around quoting Harry Potter (not hitting out at HP, it’s an awesome series), chanting spells in the hope that they’d do something and claiming that people shouldn’t do certain things because they were frowned upon in the book. Imagine that something, somewhere in the book was interpreted as disallowing something that everybody was previously doing. People would just laugh it off. Why shouldn’t people do the same to those who promote abstinence until marriage based on religious reasons?

  • Chris

    mmm deep fried anything is yummy.. ;P

  • TheG

    Hey, it just occurred to me! If I want to do unto a young, unmarried lass what she wants to do unto me (rub naughty bits until we both squeal), isn’t that implicitly endorsed by Jesus. I mean, that’s supposedly a fundamental cornerstone of the faith. Specifically, I think going “toes to Jesus” is something that answers the trite bracelets “WWJD?”; he would do unto others what they would do unto him… and then buy breakfast.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    I looked at the IFI post, and Laurie Higgins is going on about how the bill fails to define abstinence. Really? Because it was addressed in the points she quoted.

    Ages 15-18
    - Abstinence means voluntarily choosing not to engage in certain behaviors.
    - Sexual abstinence means not engaging in any sexual behavior that can result in a pregnancy or STD, including HIV.
    - People may have different ideas about what constitutes abstinence, from no sexual contact of any kind including kissing, to only abstaining from sexual intercourse, and all points in-between.
    - Sexual partners should discuss what they mean by abstinence.

    Suddenly I’m really curious what kind of abstinence is advocated by proponents of abstinence-only education. Does that mean, no PIV, no touching, no kissing, or what? Laurie acts like this is obvious.

  • Steve

    Abstinence = everything is allowed except penis/vagina sex

  • Thorny

    Christians opposing common sense and logic, i think i speak for all of us when i say we are very surprised by this. But seriously any sort of improvement in equality or education is going to be opposed by Christians, we should expect this by now.

  • kaileyverse

    @Robert L – “I hate all this “no sex before marriage” stuff. It makes me sick to think that there is something innate in an artificial social construct (i.e. marriage) that supposedly legitimizes sex, and that renders pre-marital sex illegitimate by implication.”

    YES.

    I don’t think abstaining from sex is inherently bad, but I don’t think it is okay to teach children that sex IS inherently bad – especially when children who are taught abstinence education are no less likely than others to have sex at some point before marriage, and are at higher risk of complications of pregnancy and STIs because they wait longer to seek help.

  • an observer

    Abstinence is fine; as far as I’m concerned, it’s just the state of NOT having sex…until you choose have sex. But that’s just my view on the word.

    My beef, however, is that, as Denise pointed out, the Fundamental Christians think so negatively of sex, they’ll scare the kids to abstinence. So it’s not really “abstinence education” that Fundamental Christians are teaching, in that they’re not teaching you anything about sex (unless you count STIs, AIDS, and other negative aspects of sex), but to fear it. Now, if you don’t want to have sex for whatever personal reason, I don’t really care. But if you don’t want to have sex out of fear, or because people people pressure you not to (not any better then anyone pressuring you to have sex), then I can’t call it abstinence.

  • http://www.sarahtrachtenberg.com Sarah Trachtenberg

    I find it troubling that in this day and age, people have so many counterproductive ideas about sex ed.
    I read your link about Purity Balls. OMG. There is a whole lotta healthy going on there…

  • L.Long

    Xtains are intensely ignorant when they try.
    They claim….’abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only protection that is 100% effective against unwanted teenage pregnancy, ‘
    and at the same time claim to believe that it isn’t 100% effective, one glaring example is MARY!!! She is either a slut having sex outside of marriage OR abstinence is NOT 100% effective! Ya can’t have it both ways!! OOPs forgot about being delusional!

  • PJB863

    I always wondered what happens when one person practices abstinence until marriage, only to find out that her/his spouse did not, and now has to figure out where that nasty sexually transmitted infection came from…… So much for 100% sure. Also, what about second, third, fourth or fifth marriages?

  • Gail

    When I was a teenager involved in church, they once had a woman come in to basically give us the sex talk. So we were informed about anatomy, STDs, and such, but unfortunately it was all a front to say that abstinence is the only option and that abortion is wrong.

    Luckily, my public school system did a pretty good job of giving us all the information. Methods of contraception were discussed, but I don’t remember how much. Abstinence was encouraged, but I don’t remember anyone saying that sex before marriage was wrong. Regardless, we got the information, but I can see how damaging it would be to only get the information “sex is wrong, don’t have any until you’re married.” I feel especially bad for religious homeschooled children. They don’t even have a chance to be exposed to any sort of information in a public school. I hope they know how to use the internet to find out more.

  • http://lamenta3.disavian.net Hillary

    The proposed curriculum here looks very much like the sex ed that I had in the mid-’90s at a public elementary school in Georgia. It was age-appropriate and pretty comprehensive. (They’ve since moved to an abstinence only model, from what I understand, and that’s unfortunate.)

    The teachers didn’t pretend that sex outside of marriage or even sex among teenagers didn’t exist (though the latter kind of blew most of our 11-year-old minds), but I do remember that the teacher had this massive 3-ring binder that she’d look in every time someone asked a question, because there were only certain questions they were “allowed” to answer (for everything else they had to tell us to talk to our parents), and they had to answer the questions using prescribed language. I suppose this was to make sure that no teacher went outside what the school board thought was “age appropriate.”

    I’ll admit, I don’t know what sex education was like for my peers who went to public school there for the upper grades, as my parents sent me to a private school after 6th grade, and private schools get a lot more leeway with how they teach sex ed (in the sense that I don’t think they were restricted at all in what they were allowed to tell us).

  • PJB863

    Now, you’ve got me started, Hemant! It appears that Higgins and IFI don’t even like it when this stuff is taught to adults!

    http://illinoisfamily.org/dsa/contentview.asp?c=35043

    I’m not sure when sex education is supposed to happen in their book – perhaps a few minutes before the wedding (provided there is one)?

  • Gail

    @Hilary

    I went to public school in Gerogia through 2006, and we had pretty good sex education. I don’t think it was abstinence-only, or if it was, the teachers didn’t always abide by it. This was in the metro Atlanta area, though, so perhaps it was different in other parts of the state.

    Curriculum standards don’t always end up being what kids are taught. In Illinois, some teachers will probably ignore this and teach abstinence-only stuff, or very little to nothing at all, and some will probably go further, encouraging students to understand that homosexual relationships are just as legitimate as heterosexual. Unfortunately, coming from a family of teachers, I know it is hard to regulate.

  • http://hewhothinksaloud.blogspot.com/ Emaj Cirtap

    How exactly does abstinence work? Do students just repeat “Don’t do it” over and over for an hour?

  • bernerbits

    Replace “sex” with “heroin” in the above rant, and it’ll become clearer why Ms. Higgins talks this way.

    She believes premarital sex is an addictive, dangerous, life-destroying drug.

  • L.Long

    By strict definition ‘Sex is that activity that leads to reproduction.’
    So BJs don’t count and eating ‘bush pie’ is OK and anything done with hands or feet are basically OK. But then xtians are literalist only when it suits them so the literal definition is thrown out for the liberal view of anything to do with ‘sexy parts’ is not allowed. Hypocrisy any one?

  • http://thingsfindothinks.com AndrewFinden

    If you disagree with the point that young teenagers aren’t mature enough for intercourse (as you appear to) how does that relate to the the whole ‘underage’ law? Is a young teenager only mature enough to have sex with another young teenager? Why not with someone older?

  • CanadianNihilist

    I started a sexual relationship with a girl when we were young teenagers.
    Around 10 years later we’re still together and although we’ve had our ups and downs we’re in an emotionally stable and loving relationship.
    I challenge anyone who says teenagers aren’t mature enough for intercourse to prove me wrong with actual evidence! Not their dogmatic bullshit

    And a few teen pregnancies and STD’s aren’t going to cut it, unless you can prove that teenagers are the only demographic to have unplanned pregnancies and get STD’s.

    If anyone remembers being a teenager you probably remember adults looking down at you and treating you like you’re stupid. Kids these days aren’t that stupid and if you treat them with respect they’ll surprise you.
    I’ve seen far more irresponsible adults in my life. (especially mid 20′s collage students)If we adults teach kids the truth about sex then we won’t have idiot adults and teenagers getting pregnant/STD’s due to religious based sexual ignorance.

  • Nordog

    I challenge anyone who says teenagers aren’t mature enough for intercourse to prove me wrong with actual evidence! Not their dogmatic bullshit

    Instead of demanding somone try to prove to you a negative, perhaps you can prove that teenagers are mature enough for sex, with “actual evidence”. Not your anecdotal “bullshit” (a harsh word imo, but you used it so I guess it’s okay).

    In any event, most of the victims of sex abuse at the hands of Catholic priests were adolescents (i.e. teenagers). By your “reasoning” they were mature enough to have sex, and so, weren’t really victims at all.

  • Reed Braden

    I don’t know why the government should be supporting “monogamous heterosexual marriage” in lieu of other lifestyle choices.

    Hemant? Choices? Really?? *scoff*

    (I kid.)

  • CanadianNihilist

    from Nordog

    In any event, most of the victims of sex abuse at the hands of Catholic priests were adolescents (i.e. teenagers). By your “reasoning” they were mature enough to have sex, and so, weren’t really victims at all.

    That is in all probability the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard and I doubt that you’re dumb enough to say that in all seriousness. I hope you’re just playing devils advocate here.

    That’s the same as saying that if a 30 year old woman is raped she’s not a victim because she’s mature enough to have sex. or if a married person in their 50′s is raped or sexually abused it’s ok because she/he’s mature enough for sex.

    on a somewhat unrelated note: It is my understanding that children and pre-teens are the main target for priests who molest boys.

  • Nordog

    It is my understanding that children and pre-teens are the main target for priests who molest boys.

    It is my understanding that your understanding is wrong.

    In any event, are you saying that while a teenager is mature enough for sexual activity, they are not mature enough to consent to sexual activity with an adult?

  • PJB863

    Must be troll night here…….

  • CanadianNihilist

    I don’t put too much stock in Wikipedia but It appears you are right.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_sex_abuse_cases#Statistics_on_offenders_and_victims

    In sexual abuse of a minor between 1950 and 2002

    22.6% were age 10 or younger, 51% were between the ages of 11 and 14, and 27% were between the ages to 15 to 17 years

    although 11-12 is still preteen so 12 and younger might still be the majority.
    moving on:

    In any event, are you saying that while a teenager is mature enough for sexual activity, they are not mature enough to consent to sexual activity with an adult?

    I don’t remember saying that or anything like that.
    I do however believe that anyone of any age should not have to deal with unwelcome sexual abuse.

  • Nordog

    I don’t remember saying that or anything like that.
    I do however believe that anyone of any age should not have to deal with unwelcome sexual abuse.

    Fair enough.

    So, do you think teenagers are mature enough to consent to sexual activity with adults, or not?

  • Lizzy

    Nordog, I think that you are intentionally trying to oversimplify a complicated situation. I would say that yes, sometimes young teenagers can consent to sex with an adult. However, due to power imbalances between youth and adults it can be very hard to tell when the younger partner is truly consenting and when they have been pressured in some manner. When you throw in an authority figure like a priest (or teacher, coach, etc.) it seems like more often than not, the young person is not capable of giving free consent. For this reason, among several others, it’s generally good practice for adults to avoid sexual contacts with minors.

  • CanadianNihilist

    That’s a loaded question if I’ve ever seen one. It’s also a question about my personal views that is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.
    It’s also quite obvious that no answer I give you will satisfy you.
    I had hopes that you weren’t just trolling but it looks like I was wrong.

    Have a nice day.

  • Baconsbud

    Nordog this is one of those loaded question and isn’t meant to further the discussion but to try and make yourself appear morally superior. I would say there are teens who are mature enough to make sound decisions in regards to their sexual partners. The percentage probably isn’t real high but they are out there. It also doesn’t matter if they are mature enough, it is still morally wrong for most adults to have sex with minors. Nordog do you think it is wrong for a 19 year old to have sex with a 17 year old?

  • Jonas

    Hemant

    Except for one: “Young teenagers are not mature enough for a sexual relationship that includes intercourse.” Really? No doubt most of them aren’t. But I’d guess that there are a few of them with more maturity than some college students or adults who jump into sexual relationships.

    Must a sexual relationship or as I’d like to call it ‘Romantic Relationship’ necessarily involve sexual intercourse? When you add sexual intercourse into the mix you add the risk of both pregnancy & STDs, because high school or college age is too young to decide you’d never want children of your own.

    For me, personally, I did not have a relationship involving ‘sexual intercourse’ until after college, but I’m one of those ‘mature ones’ — simply because I valued staying in school higher than what might happen if I accidentally got someone pregnant.

    Sadly in many US States, early abortion or as I’ve jokingly called it ‘Pregnancy Insurance’ is hard to come by.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X