Here’s one that’ll knock you over with a feather. A study commissioned by Congress has shown that abstinence-only sex education programs, on which our government currently spends $176 million of our tax dollars annually, have quite literally no effect at all on teens’ sexual behavior.
The only thing defenders of the programs can say in their defense — apart from what they’re currently saying, which is that the failure of the abstinence message is that is just isn’t being repeated enough, which reminds me of the hilarious line from Black Adder Goes Forth: “By doing exactly what we’ve done the last 18 times, the Germans will be caught totally off guard!” — is that this new study also shows no effect on contraceptive use either. (It had been one assumption of abstinence-program critics that kids who fall off the wagon would be less informed and less likely to use condoms.)
Naturally, anyone who’s been paying attention will know exactly why abstinence programs don’t work. They’re all part of the Religious Right’s war on science. They have nothing to do with facts about sexual behavior, STD’s, or any other factor that can be supported with evidence. They’re about foisting Christian “morality” on students without regard to reproducible results. They’re about theocratic social engineering, not education. Their proponents are the same folks who deny evolution, global warming, and increasingly, other ideologically touchy subjects like the Holocaust.
Way back during the Reagan administration, Austin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Ben Sergeant did a brilliant panel. A school principal is shown informing a teacher, “All right, we’ve removed everything that could possibly offend any religious group! So, Mrs. Smith, get in there and teach!” And the teacher is standing, gagged, in a classroom stripped of pictures, textbooks, maps, pencils, even desks. It was on point then and distressingly so 20 years later.
This is another of the evils of politicized religion. Rather than contribute anything meaningful to learning, these are people who want to play politics with our children’s educations — and, increasingly, their lives.