It may seem obvious that if you don’t want to face consequences, then you should not engage in a behavior that could cause them. That’s the driving logic behind abstinence-only education.
However, sexual behavior, especially human sexual behavior, is far more complicated than that.
After all, with sex being a common theme in movies, on television and even in books, some of which are specifically designed for youth (I’m looking at you, Stephenie Meyer), the education about it should be keeping up and apply to people of all ages.
We can’t live in a bubble while society flies forward and becomes more open about sex. This will only lead to confusion and preventable mistakes occurring.
No matter the societal changes, humans will continue to have sex for reasons not everyone can understand, which is precisely why it should be an open forum, not taboo.
Not only is abstinence education calling for a ludicrous end to pre-marital sex based on the morality of a few, but according to a report conducted by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., it provides inaccurate information about the effectiveness of contraceptives, the side-effects of abortion, and also passes off stereotypical gender roles as fact.
However, here in the United States, 34 states still participate in abstinence-only education and 16 percent of all women are teen mothers. Four in 10 women experience unwanted pregnancies.
Meanwhile, in Western Europe, particularly in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden, where comprehensive sex education is taught, an average of only 6 out of 1,000 teenagers will become pregnant per year.
Preaching abstinence scares people, misinforms them and leaves them with little information to work with. This is not right, because inevitably they will have to confront sex. Abstinence-only education also neglects the various forms of sexuality that make humans unique.
For instance, using abstinence education to prevent unwanted pregnancy narrowly targets women. This makes nearly all of her sexual expression solely about having a baby. It ignores the woman’s human desires and emotions, instead making her nothing but a baby-making machine. It makes it seem that she is not allowed to share her own body because of her ability to get pregnant.
When discussing the LGBT community, this view completely alienates them from the discussion, as abstinence-only education only considers heterosexual relationships in which a woman can become pregnant.
Only by informing the public and making sex education an ongoing learning experience, even for adults, can the United States see significant change in responsible sexual behavior.
Conservatives should stop shaming, delegating and fighting against an act as natural as the changing of seasons.
Perhaps that would make them a little less uptight, too.