Results tagged “Abstinence-only sex education” from Blog for Choice
It's back-to-school school time for students and families across the country. And that means young people will be filing into classrooms to expand their minds and learn.
But when it comes to reproductive health, many students are censored from getting the facts to help them avoid unintended pregnancy until they're ready, prevent STIs, and have a positive self-image. That's because anti-choice politicians have forced teachers to teach "abstinence-only" programs in classrooms across the country, even though they're a huge disaster:
- The U.S. has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy compared to other developed countries. And even though teen pregnancy rates have fallen in recent years, they are still higher than other developed countries.
- Researchers estimate that more than half of all new sexually transmitted infections occur in young people ages 15-24.
- And a new study shows that most Americans are in the dark about basic facts about abortion.
Thankfully, cities and school districts are thinking twice about gambling with young people's futures and are putting a stop to the "abstinence-only" approach.
Just look at Baltimore. The city has developed a program that teaches students about reproductive health by having them create their own comic book about STIs and birth control. Talk about an innovative way to engage young people while also teaching them the facts!
The school district of Lawrence, Kansas is ditching the state's "abstinence-only" programs and are instead following national standards, which include information about birth control and sexual orientation and teaches that sexual development is a natural and normal part of becoming an adult.
And the second-largest school district in Oklahoma gave up on "abstinence-only" when it found that the state had the fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate.
It's time for even more states to stand up to anti-choice politicians who are pushing "abstinence-only" programs that jeopardize young people. Withholding information about their reproductive health is never the way to go.
"Only four out of 10 [teenagers] said they had been given information both on how to say no to sex and about birth control. And 83 percent of the boys and girls who had sex said they had not received any sex education before their first time."
Woah. That's just scary. No wonder the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed nation.
This is what the anti-choice movement is all about: keeping people from getting the facts and from making the health-care decisions that are right for them. That means a lot of teens aren't learning what they need to know to stay healthy.
Take a look at four ways the anti-choice movement's agenda is playing out across the country:
- "Abstinence-only" programs: Not only has the anti-choice movement made it their agenda to withhold information from young people across the country, "abstinence-only" programs actually promote misinformation and use shaming tactics to block teens from accessing birth control or their full range of reproductive options. Only 28 states require sex education that teaches about birth control.
- Anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs): The anti-choice movement's agenda of denying information and using shame isn't only happening in schools. Our opponents have created "crisis pregnancy centers" to stop women from choosing abortion. These fake clinics are meant to look like abortion providers to lure women facing an unintended pregnancy through their doors, but then they tell women lies like "abortion causes breast cancer," "Condoms are porous," and "abortions will ruin your chance of having children in the future."
- Attacks on contraceptive coverage: For the anti-choice movement, withholding information isn't extreme enough. They are also working to let bosses who oppose birth control refuse to cover it for their employees and two of their cases have gone all the way to the Supreme Court. One in three women struggles to afford birth control, so if these bosses win it's going to mean that a lot of women could lose access altogether.
- Laws that close abortion clinics: Anti-choice politicians in states like Texas close reproductive-health clinics, including ones that provide abortion. We're seeing this happen in Ohio where new restrictions are forcing clinics out of business because they cannot comply quickly enough with unnecessary transfer agreements with local hospitals. These Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws have one goal: shut down clinics where women can get safe and legal abortion care. And, sadly, in states that are dominated by anti-choice politicians, these laws are doing just that.
In one Mississippi classroom, students of an "abstinence-only" program were made to pass around an unwrapped piece of chocolate to show that sexual activity is dirty and shameful. A school district in Texas compared sexually active teens to "chewed up gum" that should be thrown away. Another program taught students that if they have sex they're like a "rose without petals." Education is supposed to encourage and inspire students, not shame them and make them feel worthless. The problem is these programs just don't work. Teens will still have sex, but they have no idea of the risks or consequences.
Elizabeth Smart caught the nation's attention when she was kidnapped for nine months. She survived horrible trauma - and is now working to protect and educate children about violent and sexual crimes.
When she spoke at a forum on human trafficking, Smart shared that she "felt so dirty and so filthy" after being raped by her kidnapper. She attributes feeling worthless to growing up with "abstinence-only" programs:
"I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value. Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value."
Dangerous "abstinence-only" programs withhold information about reproductive health and often tell students that birth control, including condoms, is ineffective for preventing pregnancy or protecting against STDs. Even worse, these programs use shame to dissuade teens from having sex, and often use comparisons like the "chewed gum" metaphor to make them feel bad for becoming sexually active.
Clearly, shaming teens has consequences. That's why Elizabeth is speaking out through her foundation to send the message that "you will always have value and nothing can change that."
Even now, anti-choice politicians across the country are fighting to defund and block comprehensive sex-education programs that help teens protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and disease and give them the confidence to make the decisions that are right for them.
We're grateful for Smart's courage to speak openly about such a personal chapter in her life. And we hope that her message will not be lost on deaf anti-choice ears in Congress and in state legislatures across the country.
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I recently heard Katelyn Campbell's inspiring story, and just had to share it with you.
Katelyn is a high school student in West Virginia. Her school recently hosted an "abstinence-only" program that that lied to students about birth control and denies them the information they need to stay healthy. The presenter, Pam Stenzel, says taking birth control can lead to becoming "sterile or dead." Her program is truly outrageous.
Katelyn fought back against these lies. She talked with the local newspaper, and even went on CNN.
How did the school principal George Aulenbacher respond? He tried to shut her down. Katelyn says Aulenbacher called her into his office to berate her and threatened to call her future college to tell them she has "bad character" and is a "backstabber."
But Katelyn didn't back down. She knows, like we do, that teens need accurate information about abstinence and birth control so that they can make the responsible decisions that are right for them. After all, one in four teen girls in the U.S. has an STD, and one third of young women will become pregnant before they're 20 years old.
So here's a big high five to Katelyn, and all the other young people like her who are standing up for their rights!
About 97% of teens said they received formal sex education by the time they were 18. Formal sex education was defined in the report as instruction at a school, church, community center or other setting teaching them how to say no to sex or about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.Lessons about saying no and STDs were more common than instruction on how to use a condom or other birth control, the study found.Overall, about two-thirds of teens got birth control instruction by the end of high school -- about 62% of boys and 70% of girls.