I saw this post on Volokh the other day and intended to comment on it, but it got lost in the shuffle and I forgot. Thankfully, a reader sent me the link, wondering why I hadn’t written about it. It seems the Bush administration has changed the standards for the funding of “abstinence-only” sex ed curricula. Not only do they require that the courses not even mention contraception except to talk about failure rates, they’ve now gone even further and required that the courses demand that students pledge to forego all sexual activity until marriage and to exclude gay sex entirely:
Abstinence curricula must have a clear definition of sexual abstinence which must be consistent with the following: “Abstinence means voluntarily choosing not to engage in sexual activity until marriage. Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation between two persons including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse.”
[And later:] Throughout the entire curriculum, the term ‘marriage’ must be defined as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as a husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” (Consistent with Federal law)
Any sexual stimulation at all? I’m surprised they didn’t actually say “no getting to second base”. No sexual stimulation at all until marriage, and since gays can never get married, they can never have any sexual stimulation whatsoever in their entire lives. Well that’s realistic. Because that whole celibacy thing has worked out so well for the Catholic Church, hasn’t it?
If kids took such a curriculum seriously – and they won’t, even if they initially claim that they will – it would have one certain effect: it would drive down the average age at which they get married. That age has been going up steadily lately and that’s a very healthy thing. Couples that get married older tend to be more stable and they also tend to be better parents for a wide variety of reasons. If you look at the states with the highest divorce rates, you’ll also find that they have the earliest average age for getting married; that’s not a coincidence.
They also tend, ironically, to have the highest rates of teen pregnancy. This whole plan is destined to backfire. The rates of teen pregnancy will be higher with such programs, even if they do manage to get kids to wait a bit longer before having sex, because they have offered them no education at all in the use of birth control. Likewise the rate of STDs will rise for the same reason. And the divorce rate will likely go up. That’s a perfect trifecta of craziness.