May 9, 2005
SIECUS is on the warpath. If it could have its way, abstinence education would be outlawed. That’s right. While parents and legislators are working to develop ways to restore healthy sexual boundaries for our children, SIECUS is mustering its troops for an all-out assault on abstinence education.
SIECUS has a better idea. As its name implies, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States is fighting to regain control of the definition of “healthy sex” first set forth in 1964 when Mary Calderone left her position as medical director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America to organize and lead SIECUS.
Fortunately for all of us, SIECUS has had forty years to spell out what it wants our children to learn. At its initial press conference on January 9, 1965, Mary Calderone set out their plan. SIECUS would “perhaps take positions on problems of sexuality in America.”
On the surface, SIECUS assures the public it wants children to develop a healthy respect for their sexuality. It even suggests that SIECUS is “for abstinence,” too. But the devil is in the details. And we can be grateful that its long-time executive director Debra Haffner took time to spell out her ideas for raising teens.
A passage from Debra Haffner’s article “Safe Sex and Teens” in the September-October 1989 SIECUS Report is quite open about what it wants for our children. “Colleagues and I have fantasized about a national ‘petting project’ for teenagers….A partial list of safe sex practices for teens could include: Talking, Flirting, Dancing, Hugging, Kissing, Necking, Massaging, Caressing, Undressing each other, Masturbation alone, Masturbation in front of a partner, Mutual masturbation. Teens could surely come up with their own list of activities.”
Based on magazine ads, movies and television…yes…teens “could surely come up with” quite a list of sexual activities. But is that what we want our children to do? Indulge in sexual promiscuity?
Even more amazing than the list of extracurricular sex suggestions from Haffner’s article is the general premise of SIECUS that these activities are a form of abstinence from sex. In fact, some creative educators actually coined a special word for this brand of abstinence…outercourse…as opposed to intercourse.
In the old days, before enlightenment by the likes of SIECUS and Planned Parenthood, these “outercourse” activities were just the types of activities that led many a teen into intercourse. If avoiding intercourse is their true goal, one has to wonder why Haffner and her colleagues felt that empowering teens to explore highly charged eroticism is preferable to abstinence.
The history of SIECUS provides endless examples of this type of sexual conundrum…having more sex to avoid having sex. In 1977, Time began its article, “Cradle-to-Grave Intimacy,” quoting Mary Calderone saying that a child has a fundamental right “to know about sexuality and to be sexual”.
“Cultivating” the sexuality of children was of prime importance to Calderone and others. Adopting a Kinseyan philosophy that children are sexual from birth, few in this circle of “sexperts” saw any need to restrict the sexual behaviors of people…and children. Their concerns actually focused on repelling any attempts to limit or restrain sex, seeing these as repressive and counter to human design.
In 1981, Calderone co-authored The Family Book about Sexuality that asserted, “The major effects of such incidents [molestation] are caused not by the event itself but by the outraged, angry fearful, and shocked reactions of the adults who learn of it….It is these immoderate reactions which may cause whatever psychological damage occurs.”
Today, SIECUS guidelines for sex education are 112 pages long. Read carefully. You will find Calderone’s and Haffner’s same philosophy on sex underlying the core ideas of SIECUS and the activities they recommend for children.
Is it any wonder that SIECUS would take offense at abstinence education? Programs that encourage teens not to engage in sex and that present information demonstrating abstinence until marriage is the healthiest and happiest choice…SIECUS never has been fond of limiting sex.
Knowing SIECUS is the surest way to understand the reasons for their attacks on abstinence. And know this…it is also the surest way to understand the value of restoring the natural definition of human behavior.
Sex is a magical gift of bonding and procreation between a husband and wife. Until then? For our teens? Abstinence is a choice that protects and empowers.
May 2, 2005: Who Is SIECUS?
November 19, 2004: KINSEY: Brave New World?