Alex Blaze

Science again! I said, "Science again!"

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 02, 2007 6:58 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: inherit the wind, sex education, social science, Washington

There's a great column up at The American Prospect about the movement amongst some wealthier states to reject federal funding for abstinence-only education. Some have provided alternative funding for comprehensive sex ed, some have rejected it altogether, and Washington has required that such programs be scientifically accurate.

Of course anyone who had to read Inherit the Wind in high school knows that there's an uncomfortable relationship between religious fundamentalism and science. Apparently, that also extends to social science. From the Prospect:

Progressives' focus on scientific legitimacy in their critiques has put abstinence-only advocates, who have long enjoyed their favored status within the Bush administration, on the defensive. They've resorted to citing non-peer-reviewed studies by outfits like the Heritage Foundation to back up the claim that their science is sound and accusing peer-reviewed journals of conspiring to silence them. "What they are saying is that, in order to be medically and scientifically accurate, you must be verified and supported in your research by peer review," Focus on the Family's Linda Klepacki told the Christian Examiner. "Abstinence education cannot get into peer-review journals because the journals are controlled by far-left liberal organizations that do not allow us to publish. That automatically eliminates abstinence-only education, from their standpoint."
Apparently they can't keep up with social science either, so they criticize it as being politically biased. The religious right, with all its money and all their political power (that they abused and recently lost), is the perpetual victim of science, hard or soft.

The article goes on to talk about a religious group that's against comprehensive sex ed:

The campaign claims that programs under the REAL Act are not truly comprehensive because they lack information about condom failure rates (which is false) and fail to mention non-peer-reviewed studies showing that teen sex is linked to teen suicide. In other words, they are not comprehensive because they don't contain junk science.
This ends up being a constant free speech/fair and balanced debate meta-question: Should lies and the truth-as-best-we-know-it be given fair and equal hearings in school and the media? Don't we need to hear both sides of the issue, what's happening and what some people wish was happening?

That's one for the ages. What we do know is that telling our kids to wait until they get married when they aren't allowed to get married in forty-nine states is a cruel joke whose punchline is low self-image and sexually transmitted infections.

Thankfully, some states are wising up to this.

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Allen J. Lopp | April 2, 2007 10:13 PM

As a footnote, it might be mentioned that the "abstinence only" Bush administration policy also affects our foreign policy. I remember that the recent Frontline donumentary that aired on PBS, "The Age of AIDS" pointed out that the US grants HIV/AIDS education money to foreign countries --- and a few countries have turned down the funds because they find the "abstinence only" requirements to be unacceptable. In particular, Brazil turned down $40 million because it saw no way to accommodate the abstinence-only guidelines in a country where prostitution is legal.

"What we do know is that telling our kids to wait until they get married when they aren't allowed to get married in forty-nine states is a cruel joke whose punchline is low self-image and sexually transmitted infections"
Amen. I had to go to our daughter's school recently to talk about the abstinence only program. It wasn't surprising to find out that the school also considers the program to be a joke. They know that their problem is bigger than a Nancy Reagan "Just Say No" response, but with their hands tied by the religious theocracy that is W's government, what can they do?
Jen Jorczak | April 3, 2007 1:37 PM

"with their hands tied by the religious theocracy..."

Don't let them use that as an excuse. The federal abstinence-only guidelines only apply IF your school gets some of the abstinence-only money. Indiana law does NOT mandate that schools teach only abstinence. The law says that if a school teaches sex ed, it must stress abstinence, but there is NO prohibition on teaching everything else: contraceptive use, communication skills, gender issues, sexual orientation, STD & pregnancy prevention, body image, etc.

I applaud you for going into the school to start the discussion, but please don't stop there. Make sure all the parents in your school know they're teaching abstinence-only; make sure the teachers and administration know that the parents support a more comprehensive approach.

Our kids deserve better. For more, check out (Get Real, Indiana!)