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The ACLU: Are They Trying to be Mom or Dad?

The ACLU is currently on a campaign to discourage the continuance of abstinence programs in junior and senior high schools.  There are 18 states specifically targeted for this campaign, called "Not in My State" (my state, Nebraska, is one of those targeted states).  Here is their position on the matter:

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today launched Not In My State, a nationwide action aimed at combating dangerous abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula. In a coordinated effort, ACLU affiliates across the country are sending letters to local officials calling for careful scrutiny of health and life-skills curricula.

“Today’s action should be a wake-up call for many states,” said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “State officials need to ensure the health and safety of students by taking responsibility for the curricula taught in their classrooms.”

The ACLU relies on a single report prepared for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).  Said report states that "many abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula used by federally funded programs contain false and misleading information and perpetuate harmful stereotypes."  It goes on to state that "the curricula misrepresent the effectiveness of contraceptives by vastly understating the effectiveness of condoms at protecting against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and preventing unintended pregnancy."

Here in Omaha, a well-known news anchor, Julie Cornell, took a look at the abstinence program taught in the middle schools back in May.  The program is called "WAIT" and it stands for "Why Am I Tempted?"  Here are the basic principles of the WAIT program:

The program teaches that there are various steps of intimacy, with many of those steps reserved for marriage.

Teens learn why to wait, how to wait, and they get support in the process.

"Love" has different meanings, and trainers help kids classify different relationships.

Respect is a basis for the program. Teens are told that the boy or girl they’re dating right now will be someone else’s bride or groom in the future, and to treat that date with respect, the same way you would want your future spouse to be treated.

STD facts. Kids learn that condoms are not 100 percent effective in preventing sexually transmitted diseases, and they learn in great detail about more than 20 sexually transmitted diseases and the life altering consequences of living with an STD.

Marriage training: Teens learn that they’re chances of bonding with a marriage partner greatly increase when they have fewer sex partners.

Julie Cornell’s article is good as it points out the reason Nebraska schools employed WAIT’s program versus a straight "here’s how to put a condom on" approach (emphasis mine). 

The program was formed in 2001, in response to growing numbers of sexually transmitted diseases, high teen pregnancy rates, and increasing divorce rates. Recent federal grants supporting abstinence education have made it more possible than ever before for young people to gain the courage and knowledge necessary to hold off on making adult decisions too soon.
Wait (pun intended).  These programs were put in place to combat the very things the ACLU wants you to believe they inspire (STDs and teen pregnancy).  Gotta love that ACLU spin.
"This is not a ‘just say no’ approach," Donahue explained to about 30 parents on a recent night at OPS headquarters.
WAIT training is a three-pronged approach, teaching teenagers "why" to wait to have sex, "how" to hold off, and giving them support in the process.
Now just a minute.  The ACLU implies with their "abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula" label that programs such as WAIT just tell teens "don’t have sex until marriage" without delving into the other issues such as STDs or teen pregnancy (why to wait to have sex).  They imply that abstinence programs actually omit information, putting teens at risk for increased STDs and unwanted pregnancies.  From WAIT’s informational site:
We are not about witholding information but about giving information to teens.  It is how the information is given that is important.  For instance … there are thousands of teen pregnancy prevention programs all over the country.  The problem is not teen pregnancy it is teen sex.  Teen pregnancy is a symptom of a much larger challenge.
How true!

Omaha’s rate of sexually transmitted diseases - in particular Chlamydia and gonorrhea - is almost epidemic, according to health experts.  The age group most affected is the 13- to 19-year-olds.  Abstinence based sex-ed is very new in Omaha - only in place for a few years.  Health officials report that teen pregnancy rates are down following implementation of the program, but also note that because the abstinence program is just a few years old, they don’t expect to see an impact on STD rates for several years.  The ACLU is reacting in typical knee-jerk fashion.  Let the program stay in place long enough to establish its impact at the very least! 

As a parent, I feel it is *my* role to teach my children about sex, about marriage, about love and making the right decisions (as well as learning from their mistakes).  If my child makes an adult decision to have sex at a young age, it is MY charge as a parent (before anyone else) to arm my child with information on what the consequences may be.  I think programs in schools should support my role as a parent, not contradict it.  Teaching children how to put a condom on by having live demonstrations on cucumbers, for example, contradicts what I hope to convey to my children.  Abstinence is the ONLY sure way to face a 0% risk of pregnancy and STDs.

This is no place for the ACLU to butt in.  No one’s civil liberties are being violated here.  Enough’s enough.  To you, ACLU: "NOT IN *MY* STATE!"


Please visit Stop the ACLU! and visit other blogs participating in the weekly Stop the ACLU! Blogburst.      

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1 Comment
Jay said:

Thank you so much Merri. Check out our carnival we will be doing each Monday. You should submit your blogburst posts to it. You always have such great stuff.