The highly debated Healthy Youth Act, House Bill 88 and Senate Bill 221, will force 104 of the state’s 115 school districts to teach a more contraception-focused Comprehensive Sex Education program (CSE) to our impressionable youth, starting in 2010. It was passed by the North Carolina State Senate and House last week.
CSE will amend the previously taught Abstinence-Until-Marriage (AUM) curriculum and introduce the 18 FDA-approved methods of contraception including: condoms, diaphragms, surgical sterilization, and the abortifacient morning after pill included in the curriculum. While members of the liberal NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood praise the recent passage of both the bill and President Obama’s budget cuts to abstinence-only programs, the reality is, the Healthy Youth Act is actually hurting the youth it seeks to protect.1
The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) is the leading architect behind CSE programs in schools today. In particular, their Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten-12th Grade provides key fundamentals for developing sexually healthy adults. While these fundamental guidelines extol appreciation and respect for one’s own body, the guidelines do not stop there. According to SIECUS, issues that will be addressed to youth, as young as five, are: human sexuality, masturbation, sexual response, sexual orientation, gender identity, contraception, abortion and HIV/AIDS.2 Within each concept addressed, there are respective topics separated into subsections based on age and corresponding levels ranging from one through four. Each topic then presents a developmental message, a take-home – if you will– for adolescents to use in their development to become a sexually healthy adult. The SIECUS Guidelines include the following developmental messages for students:
- Level 1, (Early Elementary School) Ages 5-8: “Both boys and girls have body parts that feel good when touched."3
- Level 2, (Upper Elementary School) Ages 9-12: “Masturbation is often the first way a person experiences sexual pleasure. Many boys and girls begin to masturbate for sexual pleasure during puberty.”4
- Level 3, (Middle School/ Junior High) Ages 12-15: “Some sexual and reproductive organs provide pleasure.”5
- Level 4, (High School) Ages 15-18: “Individuals can learn what gives them sexual pleasure and communicate that to partners in order to enhance their sexual relationships.”6
In looking through the concepts admitted to the CSE, there are strong cases for some points advocated. However, the reality of the curriculum is that it presupposes that adolescents, starting at age 5, will engage in sexual intercourse and should be taught ways to make it “safe.” The concepts introduced step beyond the basic boundaries of reproductive science and emphasize sexual freedom as a means for human happiness. It is taught with a promise that natural consequences can be avoided with “fail safe” condoms, the morning after pill and abortion of course.
The argument that CSE is the more successful form of health education could easily be conceded, given the comprehensive nature of the curriculum. However, CSE is not more effective than AUM at reducing teen-pregnancy, increasing contraception use and decreasing STD rates. The Institute for Research and Evaluation concludes that no school-based CSE programs resulted in a decrease in teen pregnancy or STD rates for any period of time.7 So while CSE may be more comprehensive, it is not the most effective choice of educating our youth. And while adolescents know safe sex exists, and is possible, long before they walk into a health classroom, North Carolina legislators need to encourage our teachers to send a clear and singular message; the only way to avoid pregnancy and STDs is to practice 100 percent abstinence.
The consequence of a CSE program is far-reaching and beyond simple education of boys and girls reproductive parts. What is taught in middle and high schools around the country as “comprehensive” and “sexually healthy” is popping up on college campuses with twenty-somethings as the hook-up phenomena. This is not an inaccessible experience limited to publically promiscuous media starlets, but rather a culture that is dominating college campuses across the nation. The developmental messages that taught sexual freedom have now produced a generation of no-strings-attached sexual encounters. The consequences of this freedom include: increased rates of STDs, infertility, heightened depression, unwanted pregnancy, future fear of commitment and sexual confusion.8
So while North Carolina appeases liberal lobbying groups with a more “progressive” form of sex education, all we really are doing is further inviting another generation of responsibility-free “hook-ups” with increased warning signs of a sexually exhausted generation.
2 SIECUS, Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, 3rd Edition: Kindergarten Through 12th Grade, National Guidelines Task Force, pg 19.
3SIECUS, Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, 3rd Edition: Kindergarten Through 12th Grade, National Guidelines Task Force, pg. 25.
4Ibid., pg 52
5 Ibid., pg 25
6Ibid., pg 53