Dear Senator Frist:
Last week, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a study that proves many of the federally funded abstinence-only programs mislead teens with inaccurate information. This is extremely disturbing to me, given that funding for such programs has increased dramatically in the past three years.
It is imperative that Congress review these misleading abstinence-only programs immediately. Real sex education saves lives, and information that is wrong, too little, or too late can have life-threatening effects. Programs that are harmful to our young people should not be funded by our government - period.
As a parent of two adolescents, I think that we must ensure that medically accurate information is available to children and youth in our society. Providing accurate information are essential for fairness and justice.
Providing accurate information is also essential from a moral values perspective. The refusal to provide comprehensive sexuality education in venues such as public schools is akin to sacrificing our children on an altar of ignorance and denial. By acknowledging that all people including our kids are sexual and that this sexuality is a positive part of our humanity, we can responsibly educate them to behave sexually and express their sexuality in a positive manner. A denial of this reality causes many societal woes ... increased teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, anti-gay violence, emotional hurt caused by unhealthy sexuality, and more.
The failure of our society to acknowledge this reality and provide appropriate education is often justified in the name of religion. Sacrificing our children on an altar of ignorance and denial in the name of religion reminds me of the story and Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 ... serving our children up as an "offering" to ignorance and denial in the name of religion would qualify as fundamentally wrong. Perhaps it's time for us to listen for the "angel" that can rescue our children from hurt and ignorance and that "angel" is comprehensive and medically accurate sexuality education.
Please follow through on your promise to review these programs. Our children deserve medically accurate, age-appropriate sexuality information.
[Note: the author is a teacher-trainer for the "Our Whole Lives" lifespan sexuality education program jointly developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.]