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S. Carolina Bucks Data and Rationality in Anti-Sex Zeal

By Sandy Bartlett, October 6, 2000, Columns

A raft of studies have been published recently about teen sex, pregnancy, and disease, and the objective data are heartening to those of us who have long advocated balanced sex education. Then, along comes the right wing in South Carolina and bingo!, one step backward.

South Carolina's Education Department is grilling local school districts about their use of sex education materials opposed by their conservative attorney general. The materials in question were provided by the CDC, hardly a hotbed of sexual liberation, but Condon claims the information "repeatedly authorize[s] or even encourage[s] premarital sex so long as teenagers properly protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases." Condon wants to rigidly enforce state law requiring abstinence-only, marriage-only sex education.

This writer is familiar with the CDC materials, and they don't authorize or encourage any such thing. While emphasizing abstinence or faithful relationships as preferred (with which we agree), the literature does acknowledge that correct, consistent condom use offers significant protection for the sexually active.

Multiple studies this year demonstrate the decline in teen pregnancies/births to the lowest rate in a half-century, and encouraging (although more mixed) advances in teen venereal disease. Ask the kids themselves, and they credit up-front, frank sex education and safe-sex (including abstinence) campaigns, plus safe-sex emphasis in the media. In short, the very approach which is producing results nonetheless offends the A.G.

Perhaps this once again just reveals the far right's true intent. They aren't really interested in public health; their agenda is about controlling the lives of others, especially in sex. To those of us whose mission is rationality, all this hardly surprises, but it does sadden.

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