Yet Another Study Shows that—Surprise!—’abstinence-only’ Sex Education Just Doesn’t Work

by Meteor Blades – High teen pregnancy rates are usually associated with lower levels of education and poverty. But new research conducted by Dr. Julie DeCesare of the University of Florida’s OB-GYN residency program in Pensacola has shown that’s not all that’s going on. While national rates of teen pregnancy have fallen, they’ve fallen much less in Texas. DeCesare and her co-authors found that in the Dallas and San Antonio areas, teen pregnancy rates are 50 percent and 40 percent respectively above the national average. Federal funding for abstinence-only programs began in 1982 with a small amount of money for the Adolescent Family Life Act. But with passage of welfare reform in 1996, abstinence-only education programs exploded despite a steady stream of evidence from studies showing they are ineffective and leave out information crucial to young people’s health. The feds have poured $1.5 billion into these failed programs over the past two decades. Under an amendment to Title...

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Even Fewer Kids Are Learning Basic Things About Sex Ed

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – The United States, which has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world, isn’t exactly known for its top-notch sexual health resources. But a new study suggests that our country’s sex ed has gotten even worse in recent years. Even fewer teens are now getting basic sex ed information, like formal instruction about how to use birth control, according to researchers at the Guttmacher Institute who compared sexual health data over a seven year period. The researchers compared data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during two of the agency’s survey periods: the 2006–2010 survey and 2011–2013 survey. These surveys included questions for teens about whether they ever received formal sex education materials — like how to prevent sexually transmitted infections, how to say no to sex, how to put on a condom, and how to use different methods of contraception...

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The Battle To Bring Sex Education To The City With The Second Highest STD Rate In The Country

by KIRA LERNER – NEW ORLEANS, LA — The city of New Orleans currently has the second highest sexually transmitted disease rate in the country, second only to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The city’s teenage pregnancy rate also dwarfs most other U.S. cities, and it’s the number-one reason teenage girls cite for dropping out of school. Currently, Louisiana public schools teach abstinence-based sexual education and are prohibited from teaching students about contraception and STDs, but one state lawmaker is working to change that. State Rep. Wesley Bishop (D) introduced a bill this session that would have mandated comprehensive sex-ed in New Orleans middle and high schools. The legislation ultimately failed to make it off the House floor, but Bishop said he will keep fighting to ensure that teenagers in New Orleans get the sexual education they deserve. While moves to bring comprehensive sex education to the entire state of Louisiana have...

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‘Historic’ Ruling States That Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Isn’t Sex Ed

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – In a decision that’s being hailed as “historic,” a judge in California has ruled that health classes focusing exclusively on telling students to remain abstinent until marriage fall short of the state’s comprehensive sex ed requirements. In his opinion, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black concludes that, given the high rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy in the U.S., medically accurate sexual health information is “an important public right.” Black’s decision narrowly applies to about 40,000 students who attend the Clovis Unified School District. However, since his opinion represents the first-ever ruling on California’s decade-old sex education standards, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — whose legal counsel represented the plaintiffs in the suit — believes it sets an important precedent for the rest of the state. “This is the first time that abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula have been found to be medically inaccurate,” Phyllida Burlingame,...

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Teen Girl Suspended For Hilariously Realistic Answers On Sex-Ed Quiz

by SHANNON BARBER – For decades, conservatives have done everything in their power to keep our children as ignorant as possible about safe sex. The results? The rampant spread of sexually transmitted diseases and an explosion of teen pregnancies. Fortunately, not every teen has been left in the dark and one 14-year-old girl was brave enough to let her sex education instructor know that she REALLY knew what she was talking about in the form of some rather salty answers on a multiple choice quiz. She got suspended for it but if you’re going to get suspended, you might as well do it in style. As you can see in the image below, the quiz was a multiple choice matching type set up on the answers one could give when a potential sexual partner tries to refuse to have safer sex. Apparently, this teenager did not feel that the quiz conveyed the...

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Sex Ed In Michigan Might Actually Improve After One Woman Live-Tweeted Her Son’s Class

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – Alice Dreger, a well-known speaker and author who has a background in medical ethics and sex research, sparked a media firestorm last week after she live-tweeted her 14-year-old son’s sex ed class. Her outraged tweets about the issues with the abstinence-focused presentation — which encouraged boys to seek out girls who say “no” and warned that condoms are full of holes — got picked up on several national news sites. But the story doesn’t end there. The questions raised by Dreger’s widely-read tweets could lead to some policy changes in her home state of Michigan. There’s a patchwork of varying sexual health requirements across the country. In Michigan specifically, state law does not currently mandate sexual education in public schools. When sex ed classes are provided, they’re required to stress that “abstinence from sex is a responsible and effective method of preventing unplanned or out-of-wedlock pregnancy and...

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Professor’s Outrage at Son’s ‘Terror-Based’ Sex Education Goes Viral

By Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams – When Alice Dreger, accomplished author and professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University, attended her 9th-grade son’s “abstinence-based” sex education class, she was so shocked by the presenters’ baseless claims that she took to social media to live-tweet her outrage. Since then, her Twitter storm has turned into a cyclone, going so viral it has grabbed headlines in major media outlets, gotten Dreger banned from most events at her son’s high school, and invigorated a national debate about the real harm done by what Dreger calls“terror-based” sex education. The Twitter saga unfolded on Tuesday when Dreger attended the sex education class of her 14-year-old son, who is a student at East Lansing High School in Michigan — a state where public schools are required to “stress abstinence from sex” as a matter of official policy. Dreger’s son wanted to show her exactly “how...

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Two 13-Year-Old Girls Just Provided Better Sex-Ed Than The Entire American Right

by KERRY-ANNE – Two 13-year-old girls from Toronto, Canada are pushing for changes to the sex education in their province that would challenge rape culture, by promoting “consent culture” amongst young people. There has been a relentless narrative amongst misogynist conservatives that consent is so complicated that the poor menfolk are caught in a kafka-esque nightmare of blurred lines, the accidental crossing of which can see them branded a rapist. Yet, these two 13-year-old girl have nailed it – so why not those grown ups? Eighth-graders Tessa Hill and Lia Valente launched a petition on Change.org last week to persuade the Ontario Ministry of Education to add consent education as a topic in the province’s health curriculum. They had accumulated more than 40,000 signatures by Wednesday morning, and rising. The petition reads: “Our society is scared to teach teens and young people about safe sex, and most importantly, consent. Young...

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These High School Students Are Fighting For Medically-Accurate Sex Ed: ‘We Have The Right To Know’

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – High school students in one Las Vegas area school district are speaking up about why they deserve medically-accurate sex ed classes, saying they don’t want their curriculum to be restricted by parents and legislators who are squeamish about important sexual health topics. There’s been quite a bit of controversy over sexual education in Clark County School District over the past several weeks. Last month, a small group of vocal parents raised concerns about proposed comprehensive sex ed resources that included factual information about topics like masturbation, abortion, and sexual assault. Following significant pressure from parents who said those subjects were inappropriate, district officials halted their plans to update the current curriculum — and instead instituted a series of school board meetings to solicit more feedback from the community about what to include in sex ed classes. But this week’s public forum on the issue also included some push...

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Thanks to this Teen, Her School Will be Teaching Sex-Ed Based on Actual Science

by Kerry-Anne – School officials have backed down after a Canadian high school student filed a human rights complaint against her school district, saying abstinence-only sex-ed classes led by a conservative Christian Group violated her rights as a nonbeliever. The anti-abortion group that taught the course, Pregnancy Care Centre, will not be invited back to the district next year. Emily Dawson and her mother, Kathy, lodged a formal complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission after Emily was required to attend a two-day abstinence class in order to graduate. The complaint alleges that the Pregnancy Care Centre’s course used scare tactics, like misleading information about STDs and negative stereotypes about single parent homes, to dissuade students from having sex. The Dawsons identify as agnostics and were offended that they had no option to opt out of a course taught by a conservative religious organization with an explicit agenda. Their allegations...

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