...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, December 02, 2004
      ( 10:24 PM )
Ignorance is Deadly

Yesterday, on World AIDS Day, we recalled the theme "Silence is Deadly." It's true - but even more pertinent now for our school children is the enforced ignorance being promoted by the White House when it comes to "abstinence curriculum." The President's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandate has robbed multiple states and schools of federal funding they need to improve the situation for children. Then, they hand out funds sparingly, but only if you sign a contract with the devil. Literally.

Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals "can result in pregnancy," a congressional staff analysis has found.

Those and other assertions are examples of the "false, misleading, or distorted information" in the programs' teaching materials, said the analysis, released yesterday, which reviewed the curricula of more than a dozen projects aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

"I don't think we ought to lie to our children about science," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), left, who led the congressional staff analysis.

In providing nearly $170 million next year to fund groups that teach abstinence only, the Bush administration, with backing from the Republican Congress, is investing heavily in a just-say-no strategy for teenagers and sex. But youngsters taking the courses frequently receive medically inaccurate or misleading information, often in direct contradiction to the findings of government scientists, said the report, by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), a critic of the administration who has long argued for comprehensive sex education.

Not only is the federal government insisting that schools teach this one-sided, false curriculum in order to get badly needed funds, they seem to have no problem including such lies and misleading information as:

• A 43-day-old fetus is a "thinking person."

• HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.

• Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.

Oh and don't forget the mysoginistic, patriarchal caveman lessons:

Some course materials cited in Waxman's report present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support." One book in the "Choosing Best" series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."

In Texas, where there is the most broad use of this abstinence-only curriculum, teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are the highest in the country and going up all the time. But it's the teenagers who have been trying to fix the problem since the adults seem to be happy with this "educational" status quo.

But really, Mama, some will say, what matters are our MORAL VALUES! For crying out loud, don't you realize how much more MORAL it is to preach to teenagers lies and misleading information that will leave them MORE unprotected from ruining their lives with early pregnancies or diseases that can actually kill them than to actually provide them with real information, strategies and options? Because a teen pregnancy or std is FAR more moral for kids to deal with than knowing how to use a condom.


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