This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Just Say Yes…To Sexist Stereotyping?

From the Ms. Editors: Despite doubts about the efficacy of abstinence-only sex education,  U.S. tax dollars are still funding it. Conservatives earmarked $250 million for such programs under the Affordable Care Act, and last month, the Obama administration controversially green-lit the Heritage Keepers abstinence-only curriculum to receive funds reserved for evidence-based sex education. The excerpt below, from Katherine Stewart’s recent book, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, takes a detailed look at the problems posed by abstinence-only education.

Abstinence education posits the idea that the proper way to educate adolescents about sex is to instruct them to refrain from sexual activity until marriage. The way to avoid contracting an STD or an unwanted pregnancy, a typical program tells its students, is follow a few simple rules: “Respect yourself. Choose friends who are positive influences. Go out as a group. Get plenty of rest.” Doug Herman, a popular abstinence-until-marriage speaker at public high schools across the United States, sums up the message this way: “If the sun doesn’t touch it, nobody else’s son ought to be touchin’ it either!”

The typical abstinence program, however, is not against sex per se. Abstinence instructors often make a point of telling teenagers that they know how hard it is to refrain from sexual activity. Sex is wonderful, it is incredible, it is mind-blowing—if you are married. The principal goal of most such programs, in fact, is to imbue childrern with a certain view about the proper relationship between sex and marriage. Sex within marriage is a source of fulfillment and even ecstasy; sex in all other contexts is degrading and shameful.

Abstinence educators frequently promote this view by representing all sex that occurs outside the marital bed as harmful. Premarital sex is dangerous and dirty, they say—a gateway to decadence, depression, broken lives, and an early grave, especially for women. If you have sex outside of marriage, says Pam Stenzel, a nationally recognized “abstinence proponent” who delivers talks to public school students around the country, “then you will pay.”
Read more

TAGGED: DISHONESTY, EDUCATION, RELIGION, SCIENCE, SOCIETY


RELATED CONTENT

Viewpoints: Why is faith falling in the...

- - BBC News Comments

A new poll suggests that atheism is on the rise in the US, while those who consider themselves religious has dropped. What's the cause? Two writers debate.

Blasphemy Laws Exposed: The...

- - human rights first Comments

Blasphemy Laws Exposed: The Consequences of Criminalizing “Defamation of Religions”

Update - Too crazy even for the...

Ed Kilgore - Political Animal Comments

update - too crazy even for the evangelical right
Barton’s Fall From Grace

David Barton says his documents prove that the Founding Fathers were deeply religious men who built America on Christian ideas - but do his sources check out?

Pussy Riot's closing statement

Cory Doctorow - BoingBoing Comments

Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich has given a tremendous closing statement, which is a masterful summary of Russian oligarchy

Refuting Richard: Dawkins Doesn’t “Get”...

Graham Veale - Saints & Sceptics? Comments

Refuting Richard: Dawkins Doesn’t “Get” God

Witchcraft-based child abuse: Action...

- - BBC News Comments

The government has launched an action plan to tackle child abuse linked to witchcraft or religion in England.

MORE

MORE BY KATHERINE STEWART

How Obama's healthcare reform boosted...

Katherine Stewart - The Guardian Comments

How Obama's healthcare reform boosted abstinence-only sex education

Loretta Preska's judicial crusade to...

Katherine Stewart - The Guardian Comments

US Catholic bishops' abuse of...

Katherine Stewart - The Guardian Comments


The US Conference of Catholic Bishops in session in Atlanta, Georgia, earlier this month. Photograph: Tami Chappell/Reuters

[Update] How Christian fundamentalists...

Katherine Stewart - The Guardian 36 Comments

How Christian fundamentalists plan to teach genocide to schoolchildren

Tennessee Goes Monkey Again

Katherine Stewart - RichardDawkins.net 44 Comments

Australia's blurred separation between...

Katherine Stewart - The Guardian 30 Comments

Australia's blurred separation between church and state
Constitutional ambiguity has allowed religion an excessive influence in schools, and Australia is not alone in this respect

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment