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Even if you’re right, you’re wrong

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–“Hide and watch,” my dad used to say. When my father said this he was indicating that if I would be quiet and observe, I might learn something.

Those who did hide and watch a recent government hearing concerning the effectiveness of abstinence only sex education learned that some so-called sex-ed experts are nothing more than ideological hypocrites.

Under the guise of hearing objective testimony from a panel of experts the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform convened, chaired by Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman. Rather than hearing unbiased testimony, the committee was subject to a barrage of ideological attacks on abstinence sex-ed.

Though Waxman indicated in his opening remarks that government policy must be based “on the best science and evidence, not ideology,” it was clear that the panel was little more than a stacked deck of rabid supporters for “comprehensive” sex-education which includes instruction on sexual activity as well as information on contraception.

The committee convened the week that a new Heritage Foundation review of 21 abstinence education programs showed that a solid majority of them — 15 — showed “positive behavioral results, including delay or reduction of sexual activity,” according to a Family Research Council release. But Waxman and others chose to ignore any pro-abstinence data. Since then, other data has come out underscoring abstinence education. (One, conducted by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, showed that — contrary to what abstinence opponents claim — teenagers do not appear to commonly engage in oral sex as a way to maintain their virginity claims. Opponents often assert that virginity pledges lead to risky behavior.)

Seven individuals who are not members of Congress were invited to testify, and only one was a proponent of abstinence-only sex-education.

The panel’s true colors were exposed during the hearing when Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx posed critics of abstinence-only education the following question: “If provided evidence [that] abstinence education programs are as or more effective than comprehensive sex-education, would you support optional federal funding for such programs?”

Amazingly, five of the seven so-called experts said they would not favor funding for abstinence-only sex-ed even if they proved to be more effective than comprehensive sex-education.

Only Stan Weed of the Institute for Research and Evaluation in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine, said they would favor funding for abstinence only sex education if it proved to be as effective as comprehensive sex-ed.

Those who said that they would not support abstinence-only sex education, even if it were proved to be as or more effective as comprehensive sex-ed were: John Santelli, department chair, Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health; Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association; Margaret Blythe, pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at Indiana School of Medicine; Max Siegel, policy associate for the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Family; and Shelby Knox, comprehensive sex-ed activist from Lubbock, Texas.

If the bottom line in sex-education is the well-being of young people, wouldn’t you want to support the programs that were effective in reducing teen sexual activity? The majority of the April sex-ed panel that appeared before the House committee made it clear they don’t really care about the long-term sexual health of teens; they are only interested in promoting an ideology that deems sex outside of marriage as acceptable, so long as it is done “safely.”

Comprehensive sex-ed experts may say that abstinence is the most effective method of preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, but their emphasis indicates they believe most teens are incapable of abstaining until marriage.

The aforementioned Siegel is a 23-year-old gay man who contracted HIV at the age of 17 after having unprotected sex with a man six years his senior. He testified that the abstinence-only sex-ed he received made it difficult for him to broach the subject of condom usage with his sexual partner. Siegel believes that had he received comprehensive sex-education he would have been comfortable with using a condom and thus would probably not now be infected with HIV.

But even if Siegel had used a condom when he engaged in homosexual sex he might still have contracted HIV. A report released in 2001 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that condom use reduces the risk of contracting HIV by only 87 percent — and then only when used “correctly and consistently.”

While 87 percent might sound like a good number, you probably wouldn’t fly on an airline that boasted an 87 percent success rating for its flights. A 13 percent rate of failure is too high when your life is on the line -– which is exactly the situation in respect to HIV.

Knox, a 21-year-old compressive sex-ed activist, testified that abstinence-only sex-ed creates “an environment where teenage girls increasingly engage in risky behavior like oral and anal sex.” She said this on the heels of Siegel’s testimony concerning his homosexual sex experience. Perhaps a homosexual activist has already set Ms. Knox straight (no pun intended). After all, according to the homosexual community, anal sex is not only not risky, but it should be celebrated.

“Hide and watch,” my dad used to say. He was right; by simple observation you can learn much. If you watched the House Committee hearing on abstinence sex-ed you learned that the so-called experts that testified were not only hypocritical ideologues, a couple of them were ill-informed and even contradictory.
Kelly Boggs, whose column appears each week in Baptist Press, is editor of the Baptist Message, the newspaper of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, which is online at baptistmessage.com.

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  • Kelly Boggs