Tag Archives: Sex & Sexuality Education

YouCut Abstinence-Only Sex Ed!

Here’s a fun thought that’s been circulated by our friends at Advocates for Youth: as Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) solicits the public’s thoughts on which government programs should be cut, why not tell him to start with funding for dangerous and ineffective abstinence-only sex ed programs!

Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are deeply flawed; not only do they fail to prevent young people from becoming sexually active; they frequently deliberately mislead students about contraception and abortion. They use factually inaccurate data, withhold information about responsible pregnancy, and put students at enormous risk for sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

Moreover, the strategies used to “teach” abstinence-only curricula are extremely problematic. Shaming and fear-based instruction, promoting gender-based stereotypes and perpetuating biases based on sexual orientation are among the techniques used to “teach” sex ed in thousands of schools across the United States.

Finally, these curricula often include a strong Christian religious message, yet are still funded by the government. Much of the funding for abstinence-only comes from federal Title V programs, which have been around since 1996 and contributed the majority of the $1.5 billion the government has spent on bad sex ed. Though the current administration has diverted that funding toward evidence-based “Teen Pregnancy Prevention,” an amendment to the health insurance reform bill has authorized another $250 million for abstinence-only.

This is an immense waste of money at a time when waste should be eliminated. Comprehensive sex ed teaches about safe sex and contraception alongside abstinence, the approach that a vast majority of American parents support. Every dollar spent on abstinence-only is a dollar wasted on a failed experiment that benefits no one and fits the ideology of a scant minority.

 

For more information, you can email me or call me at 202.387.2800. 

A Social Action Mothers’ Day

Ah, Mother’s Day. I have wonderful memories of being dragged to nurseries to pick out new trees and annuals, of Mom’s new Toro tractor, of cooking everything-and-the-kitchen-sink omelets with my dad and brothers. Growing up, I didn’t have any idea why the second Sunday in May was the day we did all the chores, planted stuff, and cooked, nor, I’m sure, did the rest of my family. My dad’s argument that “it’s Mother’s Day” sufficed.

Now that I’m a progressive, constantly looking at old institutions in new ways, I’m enjoying my ongoing exploration of ways to imbue Mother’s Day with more meaning. I’ll certainly find more as we get closer to the actual holiday (save yourself potential embarrassment and write it down now: it’s May 9th this year) but for now, allow me to provide one thought: Let’s stop calling it “Mother’s Day” and make it “Mothers’ Day.”

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Oklahoma! You’re NOT doing fine!

77% of anti-abortion activists are men“The Haters” are at it again. Today the Oklahoma legislature enacted two crazy anti-abortion anti-woman measures. In the first instance they’ve voted to compel women to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before having an abortion. Of course, the idea behind this is to make a woman too guilt-ridden to go through with the procedure.

The second measure protects doctors from malpractice suits if they decide to not inform a family about an unborn child’s birth defects. Of course, this ensures that doctors who withhold information that might have led a patient to have an abortion cannot be held accountable for that action.

The Oklahoma State Senate has 48 members, 43 of which are men. The House has 101 members, 89 of which are men.

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Sex Ed Training Pays Off!

Rob Keithan is the Director of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations’ Washington Office for Advocacy.
This post first appeared at Inspired Faith, Effective Action and is republished with permission.

group-on-RAC-steps.jpgAs far as we know, the Sexuality Education Advocacy Training (SEAT) is the only national, multigenerational interfaith advocacy training focused on supporting comprehensive sexuality education. It started in 2006 as a partnership between the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and Advocates for Youth. Currently the United Church of Christ, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice are also cosponsors. The great news is that SEAT is paying off! Here are some highlights:

First, many of the Congressional Offices visited by 2010 participants remembered SEAT visits from previous years — and had positive things to say about them. This recognition is incredibly important, because even if they don’t agree with our position, they know who we are, and that we’re strong advocates for what we believe. Thanks to our SEAT lobby visits -and there were over 60 this year alone – not a single one of those offices can say that they “never hear from religious people who support comprehensive sexuality education.”

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Sexuality and Religion: A Disconnect?

The Religious Institute, a self-described “multifaith organization dedicated to
advocating for sexual health, education and justice in faith
communities and society,” yesterday released its new report, Sexuality and Religion 2020: Goals for the Next Decade, which explores the relationship between sexuality and religion.

The report indicates a disconnect between the faith community’s views on sexuality and religion and clergy’s willingness to address these issues from the pulpit. A 2009 survey of mainline Protestant clergy, for example, reported that more than 70% seldom or never discuss sexuality issues.

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Comprehensive Sexuality Education Just Makes Sense

If we define insanity as the belief that repeating the same act over and over again might eventually produce radically different results, then proponents of “abstinence-only until marriage” sexuality education seem to be experiencing a sort of 13-year “temporary” insanity.

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Biennial Sex Ed Homework from Dr. Ruth

blog-bug.jpgAt her Shabbat study luncheon at last week URJ Biennial in Toronto, noted sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer closed by telling attendees, “Now I want all of you in relationships – don’t pick up someone in the hallway, I’m very old-fashioned – to go to your hotel rooms tonight and try a new position. And call me up afterwards.”

In New Voices magazine’s analysis of the Biennial, addressing, specifically, why our most unusual suspects (Tony Blair and Dr. Ruth) were our most effective speakers, blogger Carly Silver writes:

Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a Jewish celebrity of the infamous kind, one whom it is sort of embarrassing to acknowledge. Her explicitness and candid interviews are funny, revealing, and applicable to the topic with which she deals, but why would the URJ want a sex therapist to speak? The answer simply lies in the fact that she is a wonderful representative for Judaism today. An empowered woman in her own right, Westheimer is a “Holocaust survivor and ex-Haganah fighter,” one who has survived the travails of anti-Semitism and emerged stronger. She created her own brand, carved out her own unique niche in society, and advocates sexual equality, a view that is reminiscent of the often-liberal view that the URJ holds.

RAC staffer Sean Thibault caught up with Dr. Ruth at the Biennial for a quick chat about sex, sexuality, & the Jewish tradition.

Searching for Common Ground

In his commencement speech to Notre Dame graduates last spring, President Barack Obama spoke of “Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.” And on the issue that made his speech so controversial, he said: “So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term.”
Today, pro-choice Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT) and anti-abortion Representative Tim Ryan (OH) are introducing a bill that seeks to find common ground on the historically polarizing issue of abortion. The “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act” meets President Obama’s call by including both provisions to prevent unintended pregnancies through comprehensive sex education and increased access to contraception and family planning, as well as support for women and couples throughout pregnancy and children after birth.

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