Time to get R.E.A.L.

From 1996 through federal fiscal year 2007, Congress marked more than $1.4 billion dollars (through both federal and state matching funds) to abstinence-only programs. Zero dollars went to comprehensive sex education.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT), have introduced the Responsible Education About Life (R.E.A.L.) Act into both the House & Senate (HR 1653/S 972).

The bill says:

(b) Requirements for Family Life Programs- For purposes of this Act, a program of family life education is a program that–

(1) is age-appropriate and medically accurate;

(2) does not teach or promote religion;

(3) teaches that abstinence is the only sure way to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases;

(4) stresses the value of abstinence while not ignoring those young people who have had or are having sexual intercourse;

(5) provides information about the health benefits and side effects of all contraceptives and barrier methods as a means to prevent pregnancy;

(6) provides information about the health benefits and side effects of all contraceptives and barrier methods as a means to reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS;

(7) encourages family communication about sexuality between parent and child;

(8) teaches young people the skills to make responsible decisions about sexuality, including how to avoid unwanted verbal, physical, and sexual advances and how not to make unwanted verbal, physical, and sexual advances; and

(9) teaches young people how alcohol and drug use can effect responsible decisionmaking.

Also, in subsection (c), under “Additional Activities “where is says “In carrying out a program of family life education, a State may expend a grant under subsection (a) to carry out educational and motivational activities that help young people–“, there is this:

(4) develop healthy attitudes and values about adolescent growth and development, body image, gender roles, racial and ethnic diversity, sexual orientation, and other subjects;

Oh the wingnuts will be all a-twitter.

It’s not up for vote yet, as far as I can tell. But it certainly can’t hurt to contact your Reps/Senators to let them know of your support and that they should support it as well.

Yes, I know the title is very “after school special”. LOL

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13 Comments

Filed under 03_misty

13 responses to “Time to get R.E.A.L.

  1. mamajane

    Yet another reason to believe that we have been teleported into bizzarro world- the fact that this shit isn’t already the standard, coupled with the even more bizarre possibility that this won’t make it past the wingnuts and their enablers.

    I am contacting all of my reps immediamente!

  2. The Nation had an article just recently showing not only that the government has been misspending money in this area but that promoting abstinence-only sex ed is now a huge (and hugely profitable) racket. Read it and weep.

    Then call your reps!

  3. I’m glad to see my home state senator involved in this.

  4. I like it – except for the abstinence part. Even the teenagers know that won’t work!

  5. Doktor Wankenstein

    KR — does abstinence-only sex education even count as sex education?

  6. Paen

    I wonder if these twits have the slightest idea of how many abortions that have happened because of this bull.

  7. Still couldn’t be more pleased to have Barbara Lee representing my district.

  8. Ferin

    See, that’s like what my school did.

    “The only way to be sure is not to do it”

    “If you do do it, here’s how to do it safely”

    “If you do it and you screw up, here’s what happens and how to deal with it”

    “If you wanna do it with people of your own gender, be aware of increased risks in these areas, not that there’s anything wrong with that”

    No judgments, no religion, just plain, honest education.

    Lady knows the fundies’ll be in rage about by morning.

  9. chillindisciple

    Teenage abortions happen because you’re depending on teens, who are barely responsible enough to drive a car or handle a credit card, to be able to handle the possibility of completely life-altering experience of sexual relationships and the unintended consequences of those relationships.

    Sex ed as it is has done nothing to curb abortions and has only sent the message that it’s ok to act on sexual urges. It’s taught that sex is just as natural as eating. We all know what happens when our appitite for food gets out of control-we get fat. So why can’t you people make the connection between disordered sexual activity and the results of such: abortions, rape, sexual assault, child molestation. I can’t count how many times witnessing some of my women friends and their revolving door of men. They have very little self-esteem, yet they continue to search for some connection through sexual activity. Every new conquest just as empty as the one before. And the men don’t respect them because they’re “easy”.

    Even more dangerous is when those few guys, who may already be on the edge, now have their fantasies and urges validated by this teaching. I find it no coincidence that with the increased rate of sex-ed and contraception availability, what has also increased is the rate of rapes and other sexual assaults.

    It’s called unintended consequences.

    Contraception has not reduced unwanted pregnancies.

    Before 1960 the unwed pregnancy rate was 6%. Now it’s in the 50% range. Don’t tell me more and better contraception will decrease that because right now teens have unprecidented access to condoms yet there are still a huge number of these unwanted pregnancies. Why?

    Abstinence programs run into a wall because people like you try to put forth a moral relativist philosophy onto teens at a time in their lives where more than anything they need proper guidance.

    Abstinence, backed-up with the proper moral guidence, works. It increases the self-esteem of women, it helps them understand their true dignity, and instills in them the fact that they don’t need a parade of men to find that self-esteem. And it instills in males the proper attitude that females are not a means to an end, as well as instilling self-control. They are taught that women are other persons, not just sex objects.

  10. Ferin

    chillindisciple:

    Unfortunately, The science says that abstinence education doesn’t work.

    Recent studies have shown that abstinence education does not decrease the incidence of teenage sex.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/13/AR2007041301003.html?nav=rss_politics/administration

    Further, there is evidence that abstinence education requirments tied to AIDs funding in Africa have actually caused a resurgence in transmission rates as condom availability and usage have dropped.

    On a less scientifically relevant point, I take exception to the tone of your post in regards to sex education teaching that sex is as natural as eating. In all reality sex IS as natural as eating. It’s part of the cycle of life. Without sex, species go extinct. Look at the panda. 😀

    The unfortunate part is not that “moral relativism” has increased problems associated with sex in our society, it’s that such a large portion of the population looks at sex as disgusting and perverted. You consider the enjoyment of sex to be an unnatural and sinful thing. I consider it a gift from god. Why should people turn down a gift that provides such marvelous pleasure?

    Th fact is, telling people “This is really fun, but don’t ever do it.” rarely works. Surely even someone like you has rebelled against there elders and done something they disapproved of? Kids, espeically teenagers, have finely tuned BS detectors, and with every new sex scandal out of washington (or out of churches) they realize how hypocritical the position is.

    It is far more effective to realize that young people are likely to do things they shouldn’t. The paramount effort should be in keeping our kids safe not in trying to totally prevent behavior that may be harmful. (Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?) 😀

    It should be in encouraging them to live up to the safest standard possible, and giving accurate and realistic information about the consequences. It also means teaching them how to be safe and responsible when the inevitable rebellion comes along. To my mind, that is far more of a compassionate and loving thing than telling them to bury their heads in the sand will ever be.

  11. Jewel

    Ferin – thank you.

    chillindisciple – just guessing, but perhaps the unwed pregnancy rate has gone up in part because the marriage rate has gone down? Over 50% of American women are single, if I recall correctly, and they’re still having kids. To claim that contraceptives do not reduce unwanted pregnancies strikes me as incredibly counterintuitive. To say the least.

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  13. chillindisciple

    Ferin:

    One: I wouldn’t trust a study cited by the Washinton Post, or the New York Times, or the L.A. Times becuase I know that none of those papers are intellectually independent.

    “The unfortunate part is not that “moral relativism” has increased problems associated with sex in our society, it’s that such a large portion of the population looks at sex as disgusting and perverted. You consider the enjoyment of sex to be an unnatural and sinful thing. I consider it a gift from god. Why should people turn down a gift that provides such marvelous pleasure?”

    Two: Sex is entirely proper when its done within the context of marriage. It perfects the bond between husband and wife and accopmlishes the two-fold and true purpose of sex-bonding AND procreation. It’s perverted and disordered when selfish people use their sexual powers simply to acheive their own ends. Sex is a gift from God, but we are like kids who take that gift and abuse it.

    “Th(e) fact is, telling people “This is really fun, but don’t ever do it.” rarely works. Surely even someone like you has rebelled against there elders and done something they disapproved of? Kids, espeically teenagers, have finely tuned BS detectors, and with every new sex scandal out of washington (or out of churches) they realize how hypocritical the position is.”

    No, you tell your kids “This is what sex is, this is only when you do it, and why.” The “why” being the most important. The thing about “rebelling against our elders” was that our elders are elders for a reason. They’ve been around the block a few times. They’ve made the mistakes and they try to point the youth in the right direction, but as teens we’re too self-absorbed to listen. Foremost above all you leave the High School, much less the government, out of it. You don’t tell them sex is fun. You tell them it’s serious buisness. Meant only for the most special person that they’ll ever meet. And that to abuse sex can and possibly will lead to problems that will effect them they’re entire lives.

    And you proved my point of moral relativism. You inferred that since teens see adults misbehaving, why shouldn’t be OK for them to do the same. You cannot justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior.

    Jewel:
    “..just guessing, but perhaps the unwed pregnancy rate has gone up in part because the marriage rate has gone down? Over 50% of American women are single, if I recall correctly, and they’re still having kids. To claim that contraceptives do not reduce unwanted pregnancies strikes me as incredibly counterintuitive. To say the least.”

    Read: http://www.teenshelter.org/data.htm

    That’s exactly what the proponents said in 1960 to get the government to approve contraceptives. And like I said, teens have unprecedented access to contraceptions, thanks to progressive minded people, but still the teen pregnancy rate continues to climb.

    Basically by saying the answer to teen pregnancy is more contraception is like saying the answer to putting out a fire is more gas.

    The only true way for teens not to get pregnant is to instill in them the virtue of self-control-that means abstinence. You may not get all, but you’ll get most of them. Sad thing is right now I don’t see anyone in the media, or in our culture for that matter, exhibiting self-control.

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