Column: Sex, lies and Barbara Bush

By Eric Naing

Forget all those outdated sex columns and magazine quizzes. The hot new source to get your daily dose of sex advice is the United States government. A government Web site – 4parents.gov – tells parents and teens everything they need to know about sex. Whether it’s telling you about the ineffectiveness of condoms or the absolute salvation of abstinence, the government has your back (sexually).

The Web site 4parents.gov claims to be a resource for parents who need advice on how to talk to their teens about sex. Unfortunately, the site has an obvious abstinence bias and spreads false information.

The site defines a homosexual as “a person who prefers sexual contact with people of the same sex” and then goes on to say that “if you believe your adolescent may be gay, or is experiencing difficulties with gender identity or sexual orientation issues, consider seeing a family therapist who shares your values to clarify and work through these issues.” Though if that doesn’t rid your child of the gay, I hear electroshock therapy and A Clockwork Orange-style viewings of The 700 Club might do the trick.

The unfortunate implication is made that homosexuality is a preference. It also dangerously seems to suggest that homosexuality is some kind of disease or disorder that should be cured. All this negatively impacts our national discourse on both homosexuality and sex.

When it comes to contraception, the site gives you numerous facts and figures showing how condoms and birth control are imperfect and is very eager to remind you that abstinence is the only true way to avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. This to some extent is true, but the government neglects to remind you how successful contraception can be or how unrealistic abstinence is.

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    This isn’t the only time our government has deliberately spread false information about sex. A study of teaching materials used in abstinence programs discovered that 80 percent of them contained untrue or misleading information particularly when it came to the effectiveness of condoms and the risks of abortion.

    Furthermore, a recent study by Texas A&M; University researchers found that abstinence-only programs in Texas high schools were not working. According to the study, students in high school were actually more likely to be sexually active after abstinence education.

    Another report by Yale and Columbia University researchers found that teenagers who pledged to remain virgins until marriage were much more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Boys taking the pledge were four times more likely to have anal sex than those who still chose to remain abstinent but refused to take the pledge. Pledgers overall were also six times more likely to have oral sex and were less likely to use condoms or get tested for STDs.

    Abstinence-only programs just don’t work, and yet President Bush has proposed an over $200 million increase in funding for them in the next few years. What teenagers need is a good understanding of all the contraceptive opportunities out there, not some disgruntled gym teacher telling them that using condoms will make your genitals fall off.

    According to a spokesman for the department of Health and Human Services: “one thing we do know about abstinence is that if you practice it, you will not have an unintended pregnancy or risk catching a sexually transmitted disease.” That’s the foolishly idealistic way in which our government views sex. The same line of logic could be said of anything, for example world peace. If you practice it, then nobody will die in war. Too bad President Bush isn’t instating mandatory peace-only programs in every high school.

    Just like the sky is blue and Barbara Bush Sr. is a sex goddess, teenagers will have sex. It’s a fact of life. Preaching abstinence-only in our schools is a futile and dangerous game that only serves to placate the Christian fundamentalists that now control our government. Choosing abstinence is a deeply personal decision that should be discussed with close family and friends and not imposed by a fundamentalist government.