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September 14th, 2005
A little truth, please!

I’m overwhelmed with joy today to see that real sex ed groups are taking steps to ensure the government provide accurate information in their abstinence only sex ed programs.

Relying on a little-used law that allows “affected persons” to seek the correction of information disseminated by federal agencies, the groups said Tuesday that the abstinence education programs contain erroneous and ineffective information. They asked the Health and Human Services Department to correct it.

About three-quarters of the challenges made under the two-year-old Information Quality Act have come from industry groups concerned about regulations.

[...] The groups claim that the curriculum used by most Community-Based Abstinence Education grantees contains false information. They called on the Administration for Children and Families to cease sponsorship of programs that fail to provide medically accurate information.

For example, dozens of grantees teach that condom use reduces the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS by 69 percent to 90 percent. The two groups say that such instruction greatly underestimates the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV/AIDS, and the numbers result from a study that the department itself described as having conclusions based on “serious error."

I want you to remember back to when you were, let’s say, 15.  Let’s say that your health class is now teaching you to just say no.  For me, regardless of the information I was getting, I would probably still have sex.  Of course, I was always smart enough to do my own research...but lots of teenagers aren’t.  Either way, an adult telling me that abstinence is the only way to go means that I would immediately go and do the exact opposite.  And I’m not saying that every kid is exactly like I was, but I don’t think I was a special case in that regard, either.

But apparently some people in the Bush administration have completely blocked out that portion of their lives.  Wade Horn, the guy who oversees the Administration for Children and Families, actually told Congress that abstinence only sex ed “helped people develop the self-discipline to say no to sex”.  You know, as if wanting to have sex was like alcoholism or something.

If people had better memories, maybe we’d be in better shape.

I do hope that using the Information Quality Act does work, though.  After all, there’s enough misogyny in this country without adding in a reading of Choosing Best, which teaches girls that outspoken women never get their man.

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