Tuesday, April 8, 2008

LTE: "We Owe Teens This"

While I was in Pittsburgh this weekend, waiting for Mrs. Forester to awaken, I read my complimentary hotel copy of The Post-Gazette. The VP for Education of Planned Parenthood wrote this Letter To The Editor. It deftly exposes the abstinence-only crowd's argument against sex education as a classic straw man:

As an educator who has been teaching comprehensive sexuality education to teens for more than seven years, I wanted to correct any impression that my job is to lecture about condoms, the pill and oral sex.

Our goal is to provide teens with the proper tools and education to help them make healthy and responsible decisions for themselves. Comprehensive sexuality education is abstinence-based: We emphasize that abstinence is the only way to truly prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Our classes do cover correct condom use and birth control methods, but teens also learn to identify their own values about sexuality and to practice negotiation and refusal skills to reduce risks involved with sexual activity. All of the curricula that we use are evidence-based, medically accurate and are recommended by the CDC.

Our programs give teens the opportunity to ask questions and get a response that is nonjudgmental and accurate. While abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula take away responsibility by treating teens like they aren't hormonally charged beings bombarded with sexual messages from television and advertising every day, comprehensive sexuality education recognizes that teens are complex people living in a complex society making decisions on their own -- sometimes decisions we don't want them to make.
(Emphasis added).

I could not have said it better myself.