2007 07 18
Um, ew.

There are just so many gems in this NYT piece on abstinence-only education. But this takes the cake:

In northeastern Texas, advocates of abstinence education vow to fight for their mission because to them, it is not just a matter of sexuality or even public health. Getting a teenager to the other side of high school without viruses or babies is a bonus, but not the real goal. They see casual sex as toxic to future marriage, family and even, in an oblique way, opposition to abortion.

“You have to look at why sex was created,” Eric Love, the director of the East Texas Abstinence Program, which runs Virginity Rules, said one day, the sounds of Christian contemporary music humming faintly in his Longview office. “Sex was designed to bond two people together.”

To make the point, Mr. Love grabbed a tape dispenser and snapped off two fresh pieces. He slapped them to his filing cabinet and the floor; they trapped dirt, lint, a small metal bolt. “Now when it comes time for them to get married, the marriage pulls apart so easily,” he said, trying to unite the grimy strips. “Why? Because they gave the stickiness away.”

Tune in next week when Mr. Love uses a straightened paper clip to show that curing homosexuality is as easy as a trip to Office Max.

Howls of outrage (3)

2005 07 07
AIDS in Africa

Posted by in: Africa, AIDS, Political issues

Stephanie Nolen reports.

(Hat tip to Kegri.)

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2004 12 02
This has got to stop

Posted by in: Abortion, AIDS, Odds and ends, Sex

The idea of abstinence-only sex education is a travesty of the sort of concern we owe to our youngsters. But when certain groups that receive federal dollars for these programs deliberately mislead students through distortions, outright falsehoods, and pathetic allegories, it’s criminal. From today’s WaPo:

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.

[The Bush admin is] providing nearly $170 million next year to fund groups that teach abstinence only…

Waxman’s staff reviewed the 13 most commonly used curricula — those used by at least five programs apiece.

Among the misconceptions cited by Waxman’s investigators:

� 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.

One curriculum, called “Me, My World, My Future,” teaches that women who have an abortion “are more prone to suicide” and that as many as 10 percent of them become sterile. This contradicts the 2001 edition of a standard obstetrics textbook that says fertility is not affected by elective abortion, the Waxman report said.

Nonpartisan researchers have been unable to document measurable benefits of the abstinence-only model. Columbia University researchers found that although teenagers who take “virginity pledges” may wait longer to initiate sexual activity, 88 percent eventually have premarital sex.

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.”

As the article reports, there is evidence that all abstinence-only education does for teens is get them to delay having unsafe sex for a little while. By restricting talk of contraception to their failure rates, we get teens to think, “Well, if they don’t work anyway, why should I use them?” High school is a crazy time, and we cannot expect teens act as they have promised in some fourth-period health class. Teens everywhere find themselves hanging-out after school, with little to do. And it is not ususal, even in a small, Texas town, to find your “friends” saying, “You’re a little faggot. You’re 15, and you still haven’t had sex.” In times like those, one’s in-school pledge to stay a virgin is likely to mean very little to you. Having gone through all this ourselves, we owe it to our children to give them the tools they need to protect themselves as they walk down inevitable pathways of adolescence. Lying to our children about scientific fact on the government’s dime and witholding from them the information they need to stay safe is not only inexcusable, but a road to disaster. This has got to stop.

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2004 09 10
Night and Day?


Officially, the Secret Service does not concern itself with unarmed, peaceful demonstrators who pose no danger to the commander in chief. But that policy was inoperative here Thursday when seven AIDS activists who heckled President Bush during a campaign appearance were shoved and pulled from the room — some by their hair, one by her bra straps — and then arrested for disorderly conduct and detained for an hour.

After Bush campaign bouncers handled the evictions, Secret Service agents, accompanied by Bush’s personal aide, supervised the arrests and detention of the activists and blocked the news media from access to the hecklers.

The activists were admitted Thursday to the Bush speech, which they quickly disrupted with chants of “Bush lies, people die,” and signs saying, “Bush: Global AIDS Liar.”

One uniformed Secret Service agent complained to a colleague that “the press is having a field day” with the disruption — and the agents quickly clamped down. Journalists were told that if they sought to approach the demonstrators, they would not be allowed to return to the event site — even though their colleagues were free to come and go. An agent, who did not give his name, told one journalist who was blocked from returning to the speech that this was punishment for approaching the demonstrators and that there was a “different set of rules” for reporters who did not seek out the activists.

Continue Reading »

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2004 05 13
HIV/AIDS in the Philippines


I can’t say that I’m impressed by the Catholic Church on this one. I can’t say I’m surprised either.

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