Saturday, September 27, 2008

Abstinence is enough for our children's textbooks


After reading the Rev. George Mason's column, "Theology of Sex," it strikes me that although we appear to be on opposite sides of this issue, we have much in common.

Like Dr. Mason, I am also teaching my children abstinence, and agree that it is not necessary to use shame, fear or incomplete information to teach our children about human sexuality.

I imagine most parents would agree that schools have no business undermining what we are teaching our teens about sex and the responsibility that accompanies it. Just as it is not the school's place to teach my sons religion, neither is it the school's place to teach human sexuality in a way that contradicts our faith, as well as the laws of this state.

Don't we all support age-appropriate and medically accurate information? The devil is in the details. Who decides what is age-appropriate information for the eighth- and ninth-graders who will take this mandatory health course?

In 1995, a bipartisan Legislature answered the question. Abstinence must be stressed, but local school boards can decide what (if any) sex education will be taught in addition to the mandatory abstinence education. Local health advisory committees, which are to be dominated by parents, are set up to assist each local school board with this decision. In addition, parents, as the ultimate decision makers, were guaranteed the right to pull their children out of any of these programs.

Including sensitive material in the textbook of a mandatory health course is a backdoor attempt to violate the spirit of the law, if not the law itself. While I am content to let liberals educate their children in the manner they see fit, why are they not always eager to extend that same right to me when it conflicts with their agenda?

The fact is that a majority of parents in Texas disagree with Dr. Mason's friends at Texas Freedom Network and Planned Parenthood, who push sex as a recreational activity to be pursued with whomever, whenever teens in their infinite wisdom decide they are ready.

Some of us have observed that even as the rate of condom use among teens has risen as much as 40 percent, the rates of sexually transmitted diseases have continued to skyrocket. Comprehensive sex ed has ruled the educational roost for three decades, buoyed by the AIDS scare in the 1980s. Instead of a reduction in pregnancy or births, Texas saw a doubling of teen pregnancy rates. We have gone from the big three STDs when I was in high school - syphilis, gonorrhea and herpes - to 35 sexually transmitted diseases known to be prevalent.

Even the National Institutes of Health state that when it comes to many STDs, they can't say how effective - if at all - condoms are. Turns out that some STDs are spread from skin-to-skin contact, and condoms don't cover everything. That is the God's honest, loving truth our kids need to know.

In the early 1990s groups such as ours began offering abstinence education in schools and churches in response to the moral, social and economic chaos our teens experienced as a result of decades of these flawed, value-neutral sex programs. Immediately the pregnancy rate began dropping, and it has come down every year since. Last year Texas was one of three states to receive a $19.9 million award from the federal government for reducing out-of-wedlock births without increasing abortions.

All over the country, abstinence is making a comeback. Rolling Stone magazine even called it the "new revolution." Abstinence is the reason teen pregnancy and birth rates are coming down. Abstinence is the loving truth that will protect our kids.

Kyleen Wright is president of the Texans for Life Coalition. Her e-mail is

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