Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sex Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be. Just Ask Your Mother

We think it was the great and powerful TBogg who opined that some people choose abstinence, others have it thrust upon them. Apparently, the latter category having been handed the reigns of power by our democratic system (or what's left of it) have attempted to make their circumstance the choice of all those rutting little bags of raging hormones generally referred to in polite society as "the kids."

It's worked about as well as you might have thought it would had you ever been young and had the stink of abstinence on you like hopelessness. Not that we ever...well..., choice is such a slippery word. Besides, what about Elizabeth? Did she choose to wear those skirts with the slit up the side? Did she choose to walk by your desk five times a day in History class? Did she choose to flaunt that glimpse of perfect thigh just inches from our fevered brows? And what about Natalie, running to the bus after school, the sun glancing off that golden hair, those legs, so long and tanned flashing under her billowing summer dress, so perfect...yes, it's all coming back to us now like an old movie seen again after many years. A movie with a sad ending. Many sad endings. Many sad, lonely endings. Excuse us a minute.

Yes. Well. Where were we?

The number of states refusing federal money for "abstinence-only" sex education programs jumped sharply in the past year as evidence mounted that the approach is ineffective. We think by "evidence" they mean in most classes the students end up explaining things to the teachers, but we're not sure about that.

"We're concerned about this," said Stan Koutstaal of the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the program. "My greatest concern about states dropping out is that these are valuable services and programs. It's the youths in these states who are missing out." Mr. Koutstaal, the "youths" haven't been missing out, and that's the problem.

The trend has triggered intense lobbying of state legislators and governors around the country. Supporters of the programs are scrambling to reverse the decisions, while opponents are pressuring more states to join the trend.

See, here's the problem. supporters are doing this, opponents are doing that. WHO'S WATCHING THE KIDS?

"We hope that it sends a message to the politicians in Washington that this program needs to change, and states need to be able to craft a program that has some connection to reality for their young people and that is not a dictated by Washington ideologues," William Smith of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States said.

"Hey. I'm no ideologue," Koutstaal said. "I've had dates,"

"Our critics would have governors believe that these programs are just somebody standing in front of the class wagging a finger and saying, 'No. No. No. Don't have sex.' That's not what these classes entail," Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association said. "We have five or 10 people standing in front of the class wagging a finger and saying, 'No. No. No. Don't have sex.'"

The jump in states opting out follows a series of reports questioning the effectiveness of the approach, including one commissioned by Congress that was released earlier this year. The "Foley Report" showed a distinct drop in Congress members practicing abstinence starting with the republican takeover of both houses.

"This abstinence-only program is just not getting the job done," said Cecile Richards of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Just look at those horndogs in Congress. Telling them to keep it in their pants is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

"Um...this is about the kids," said Koutstaal.

"Oh, yeah. Sorry," Richards replied.

Koutstaal took issue with critics who blame abstinence programs for the increase in teen births, noting that rates have continued to decline for 10-to-14-year-olds -- the ages typically targeted by the programs. "I think it's awfully hard to blame abstinence education for the increase in birth rates," he said. "Sure, as soon as they get out of the program they go at it like rabbits on steroids but is that our fault? It's abstinence only, not abstinence always.

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