April 15, 2013
We can all agree on the problem with teens and sex. We have too much of it, along with the attendant problematic results: STDs, single parent homes, absent fathers, abortion, economic challenges, and more. Since the 1960s and the start of the sexual revolution, we have watched these problems escalate. We have wrung our hands. And we have sought solutions.
Illinois legislators think they have the solution. And in their eagerness to “solve the problem,” they are preparing to mandate the “solution” that many believe is one of the problems that got us into the fix we are in.
For half a century, we have explored ways to address the problems associated with teen sex. Sadly, the first problem is our inability to even agree on the problem at hand. Do we…
- Suffer from Puritanical sexual standards, or
- Believe that sex has no meaning other than the actual physical encounter…
- Welcome babies as the blessing of our fertility, or
- Dispose of babies as inconvenient byproducts of sexual pleasure…
- Address the different sexual needs of men and women emotionally and physically, or
- Maintain that gender has no significance based on our “sexual equality”…
- Help parents in their roles as educators for their children on sexual values, or
- Bypass parents as ignorant stewards of their child’s sexual health…?
This list of conflicting values and beliefs could fill up a spiral student college notebook. Not surprisingly, the supposed “solutions” to the problems of teen sex could fill up ten spiral student college notebooks.
In Illinois, legislators have put their collective finger on the solution. They have decided to bet on condoms and contraception. But they are not betting with their own lives.
Legislators are betting the lives of all Illinois school children on a pipe dream, betting these young lives on a “solution” that is actually a problem gift-wrapped in wishful thinking. They want all Illinois sex education programs to instruct students on how to use a condom and on how to take birth control.
They are not the first to throw condoms at kids, and they won’t be the last. But, after 50 years of condoms in baskets, free for the taking, we have not solved anything. Indeed, the very real possibility is that we have made the problem worse. It is a conundrum that perplexes many.
How could we possibly go wrong in teaching children the use of condoms and contraception? Let us count the ways:
- The language of safe and protection is used to sell condoms. True safety is always safe – 100% of the time. Medically accurate information reveals that condoms and contraception fail…even with experienced users. [See testimony linked below for detailed information.]
- The singular “problem” that concerns legislators is pregnancy. How do they prevent babies? Many young people do not see babies as a problem. In fact, for many young people, babies can be a solution for these teens to their own set of problems totally ignored by adults.
- Condoms and contraception address one primary problem: pregnancy. They are not the solution to STDs and can even magnify exposure to STDs. STDs are not simply “cured” with a few antibiotics. They lead to sterility, serious lifelong health problems, cancer and death.
- Classroom educators who promote condoms and contraception through their demonstrations are giving medical advice and instruction to minor children. These teachers are not subject to the professional medical standards that govern any other area of medicine: credentialing, supervision and medical liability.
- Condom and contraception instruction lacks any serious follow up with minor children: testing for their understanding, their retention of information or the appropriateness of information for their individual situations.
- Condom and contraception instruction is often conducted “in the shadows,” in such a way as to distance children from parents and important adults in their lives. In some cases, parents are characterized by instructors as ignorant, out of touch, and untrustworthy.
- Condom and contraception instruction empowers people who prey on children, implying that teen sex is appropriate and isolating children from true protection in their families and from medical professionals.
- Abortion is the unspoken fallback option promoted – and sold – for any failure of a condom or contraception. It is no surprise that many of the same businesses that sell abortion are lead advocates for and teachers of contraception.
These are serious drawbacks to the proposed mandate in Illinois. But the greatest problem with the solution is its failure to actually and directly teach students the healthiest choice of all.
The proposed legislation withholds truth from our children. The bill “makes changes to provide that all classes that teach sex education and discuss sexual intercourse in grades 6 through 12 shall emphasize that abstinence from sexual intercourse is a responsible and positive decision.” [underlining added]
This statement is worded to suggest that there is a long list of responsible and positive decisions about sex that students can use to choose the one they like best. It suggests that abstinence is just one of many decisions the student is free to choose from They can responsibly consider no sex…or they can responsibly consider sex with a condom. Either…or…both decisions are on the list of “responsible sex” given approval by the instructor.
Consider that a sixth grade student is 11 to 12 years old. Is that what you want a stranger to be teaching your child? Do you want the teacher to tell your 12-year-old daughter that she can have “safe” and “responsible” sex if she uses a condom and that abstinence from sex is just one option of many “good choices?”
Condoms and contraception are mechanical fixes used to address a condition of the heart and soul. Children want love. They want acceptance and affection. These are not sexual needs. They are heart needs.
We can teach children healthy approaches to life, and we can guide them in those choices. We do that in the areas of diet, smoking, driving and drugs. It is time to step up to the plate and truly safeguard the sexual health and future for our children.
Illinois…Illinois legislators…the children of your state deserve the best and truest options of all. If education is not directed to the highest and best goals for our children, then we will get the problems that we deserve. Unfortunately for our children, we are playing with their lives and with their futures. They deserve better.
NOTE: Detailed testimony presented by Scott Phelps to the Illinois State Legislator presents research and professional evidence, including CDC guidelines, supporting a commitment to abstinence until marriage education for students in grades 6 to 12.
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