A Load of Bright
An atheist's views on religion and the supernatural

Abstain With Me


This news story from the BBC reports that a new study has shown that students in America who attend “abstinence classes” are no more likely to abstain from sex then students who receive regular sex education. Well, I didn’t see that one coming (no pun intended).

“Abstinence only” sex education is, to quote Roy Zimmerman , “a little like saying ‘just-hold-it potty training’”. Instead of teaching children that sex is a very special, enjoyable thing, but also a great responsibility which they should take very seriously, they teach them that they just shouldn’t have sex with anyone until they are married. Not in a serious, long term, monogamous relationship, but actually married. Never mind the importance of building a loving and trusting physical relationship before committing to spending the rest of your life with someone. Never mind the fact that if you’re gay, you can’t get married in America so you’ll have to just never have sex.

Instead of teaching them of the dangers of STI’s and the threat of unwanted pregnancies, and the importance of using contraception and protection to prevent these things, they simply don’t tell them anything, except ‘don’t do it until you’re married’. Do they not know how children’s minds work? It’s like dangling candy in front of them.

This is simply an underhand attempt to sneak religious dogma into the classroom, with as little subtlety as sense. The only thing the Republicans can’t be accused of here, is stinginess.

In the past few years of Republican Party control of Congress, the spending on no-sex-before-marriage education has risen from $10m to $176m a year.

You read it right. Just to put it another way, that is an increase of 1,760%. $176m of American tax payers’ money on a project that was predicted, correctly as we now see, to fail.

The findings show that those who attended [abstinence classes] first had sex at about the same age as their peers – at 14 years and nine months.

To be fair, it seems that abstinence classes don’t cause children to have sex any earlier. However, this just goes to show that children are human beings with urges and desires. They will follow their instincts regardless of what they are taught. So what we should be teaching them is to do is safely.

Of course, the Republicans are playing down the importance of these findings.

The Bush administration has warned against drawing sweeping conclusions from the study.

Here’s the punch line: the study was ordered by Congress! So, they order a study, no doubt with the hope that it would confirm their arguments, and when it doesn’t they tell people to ignore it. What would they have said if it had shown that abstinence classes were successful? They would have gloated and shouted it from the roof tops.

It is beyond me to describe how infuriating I find such glaring hypocrisy, so I’ll leave you with the work of the aforementioned Roy Zimmerman to highlight the idiocy this displays.

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3 Responses to “Abstain With Me”

  1. “Abstinence only” sex education is, to quote Roy Zimmerman , “a little like saying ‘just-hold-it potty training’”.

    Hah! Priceless! As infuriating as I find it that my government is throwing its money away on religious indoctrination, the ability to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all helps at least a little.

  2. It’s too bad, because there doesn’t have to be anything religious about telling 14 year olds not to have sex. By law, sex with a minor (

  3. Ebonmuse said:

    Hah! Priceless! As infuriating as I find it that my government is throwing its money away on religious indoctrination, the ability to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all helps at least a little.

    I completely agree. I think if we can’t laugh we’ll all go nuts 🙂

    Polly said:

    It’s too bad, because there doesn’t have to be anything religious about telling 14 year olds not to have sex. By law, sex with a minor

    Good point, but it’s worth being clear that we’re not advocating sex education that tells 14 year olds to have sex. We’re just saying, kids don’t do what they’re told, little rascals that they are. So, let’s make sure they know the law, but also understand how important contraception is, so that in the event of them ignoring the law, they can at least be safe.


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