October 28, 2009

Lehman, legislature tackle SexEd;
When abstinence isn't good enough

Sex education is in the news again, and sure to be as controversial as ever.

At issue is the comprehensiveness of the sex education offered in Wisconsin schools. State Sen. John Lehman is knee deep in the battle, as a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 324, a companion bill to Assembly Bill 458, the Healthy Youth Act. The Assembly version made it out of the Committee on Education this week by an 8-5 vote and now passes to a full Assembly floor vote.

The Senate bill will be the subject of a hearing Thursday at 9:30 a.m. by the Senate Committee on Education, which is chaired by Lehman.

What's the big deal, you ask? Just this: Under state law today, a school may teach abstinence only and be in compliance with sex education statutes.

Yes, we know, abstinence is effective at preventing pregnancy -- 100% effective.. But, as our teen pregnancy rates prove, teens aren't abstaining.

The issue is particularly relevant to Racine, which has the second-highest teen pregnancy rate in Wisconsin and a teen birth rate almost double the national average (along with Green Bay and Kenosha). Here are the startling numbers (click map to enlarge):
42.5/1,000: U.S. teen birth rate
32.4/1,000: Wisconsin teen birth rate
49/1,000: Racine County teen birth rate
94.3/1,000: City of Racine teen birth rate in 2007
Sexually transmitted disease are another issue. Chlamydia is the most commonly reported infectious disease in the U.S., according to the CDC, and females 15 to 19 had the highest chlamydia rate -- 3,005 per 100,000 population in 2007. In Wisconsin, the rate among the general population is 371 cases per 100,000 people; among Racine County teenagers it's 2,782 per 100,000

The Healthy Youth Act bills:
  • Require that school boards that decide to teach sex ed do so in a medically accurate, age appropriate way, addressing elements proven to reduce sexually transmitted infections and unintended teen pregnancies, including providing information about abstinence and contraceptives.
  • Require that school districts that opt to not teach sex ed send a notice home to parents.
  • Require that the state apply for federal funds allocated for teen pregnancy prevention programs.
  • Delete a state law forbidding volunteer health care providers from providing sex ed instruction in areas concerning human sexuality and contraception.
  • Support the current ability of parents to opt children out of sex ed curriculum.
According to the Healthy Youth Alliance, a coalition of nearly 40 health care, education and youth organizations, including Planned Parenthood, aligned in favor of the bills, the new regulation would give students the skills they need "to make responsible decisions about sexual health throughout a student’s life, highlighting abstinence as the most certain way to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and discussing the benefits and risks of birth control and barrier methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and STIs. Programs meeting these criteria are called 'comprehensive sexuality education' curricula by educators."

In other words, if this becomes law, then sex education in our schools will have to include such matters as contraception, and even medically accurate names for body parts. According to a DPI survey, only 61% of state school districts are teaching some form of a comprehensive program. Racine Unified is one of them. (Details added below.)

"The part many are hung up on," says Amanda Harrington of Planned Parentlhood Advocates of Wisconsin, " is that in addition to teaching about abstinence, you have to have a discussion about birth control"

Wisconsin Right to Life opposes the bill. "Wisconsin Right to Life strongly believes that we must speak out in one voice to protect the health of our youth, to reduce the number of pregnancies among our youth and to reduce the number of abortions obtained by our youth by advocating programs that focus on abstinence from sexual activity," their memo to legislators says. "It is the healthiest course for our youth to take and is the only way to insure that sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and abortion will not result.

"Unfortunately, AB458 would require that students be taught about a number of activities that could endanger their health and could result in a growing number of teen sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancies and abortions."

From Unified: In response to our questions about what sex education information is taught when at Unified, we received the following from the middle and high school curriculum summaries (which we've minimally edited):

GRADE 6 Health and Safety: General health units include Decision Making, Family Life, Child Abuse, Personal Growth and Drug Education.

GRADE 7 Physical Education and Health: Health units focus on mental, physical and social health including: Decision making, family life and AIDS, drug education, nutrition and mental health. There are approximately 10-12 lessons at each grade level.

GRADE 8 Physical Education and Health: The Health units assist adolescents in acquiring decision-making skills, enhancing self-esteem, learning responsible behavior and helping set goals for them to realize their potential. STDs and HIV are important units of study in Health at
this grade level.

GRADE 9 One semester of Health is required for all Grade 9 students which meets state law requirements in the area of health education. The student must pass this course. Board policy allows students to be removed from any Health unit to which parents have objections (and file a written objection). This course deals with decision making related to health and wellness concepts along with the development of an awareness and understanding in the content areas of drugs, death, human sexuality, nutrition, weight, fitness, mental health, personal hygiene and communicable and chronic diseases.

GRADE 10, 11, 12 Health Education make-up (for those who didn't pass in Grade 9): See description above.


  1. If we actually taught them the basics of education - reading, writing, math, etc. - and taught them CORRECTLY, demanding compliance with teaching strategies instead of watering everything down and requiring the bare minimum - maybe these kids wouldn't have time to get pregnant. Maybe they'd be busy with homework and projects, worried that not completing their homework might result in an "F," which means FAIL, thereby rightfully resulting in the negative emotions that result when you do a crappy job at something.

    But by all means, yes, further waterdown the education at Unified by filling time with this garbage. They won't be able to get a job or get into college, but they'll be able to put a condom on a banana, not forget to take their contraceptives, and be socially aware of alternatives like the morning-after pill and abortion. Bravo kids! We're soooooo proud of you!

  2. If the children will have to have expanded discussion of Sex Education, how will we have time to indoctrinate them in the evils of Global Whatever it's called this week? Something's gonna have to give. Maybe stop teaching Math!

  3. Lehman and sex in the same sentence = scared children everywhere.

    My proposal: Threaten the teenagers that if they have sex, their punishment will be to have to watch a video of their parents having sex. Not just run of the mill type stuff either - no way. I'm talking really getting into it! Perhaps a greatest hits edition. Have the teacher do some air humping to a Beyonce song for full effect to demonstrate a likely position the parents were engaging in - like doggy style for instance. That will really gross them out.

    Of course all of that would require that their parents are actually having sex to videotape.

    In either case, the kids aren't having sex and the parents are encouraged to do so. C'mon parents! Take one for the team and get down and dirty in high def! It's for the kids.

  4. Seriously, sex education ought to be the responsibility of kids' parents or guardians.

  5. Pete, are the birth rate figures per 100,000 or per 1,000?

  6. Austin: Oops, you're right. It's the chlamydia figures that are /100,000. Teen birth rate is /1,000. Thanks for catching it.

  7. Thanks for catching chlamydia ?

  8. This is ridiculous with all thats goin on, that our State Officals are working on THIS?! You've got to be kidding...how flippin clueless

  9. It's sad that we even need to be talking about this. But facts are facts, and the first sad fact is that, generally speaking, if you want a kids to do something, just tell them not to do it.

    I didn't realize the schools were not teaching contraception. It seems to me that teaching them only half of what they need to know is pretty irresponsible. If someone doesn't want their child to hear about sex or using contraceptives, for whatever reason, they should have the right to pull their kids from the class. Then they have no one to blame but themselves if their daughter winds up pregnant or their son suddenly has a heavy responsibility laid upon his shoulders. But, for those kids that do attend these classes they should, by the time they're truly sexually active (maybe 8th through 10th grade) get it ALL. Show them the results of not being responsible. Show them films and pictures of just how bad it can be. Show them what STDs can do to you. Show them the testimonies of girls and women who got tied down with a baby and what they missed out on by not waiting. Show them the proper way to use contraceptives and the results of not using them properly. Show them the face of AIDS.

    There is so much positive about having a child, but there is also so much negative when you're not prepared for it or when you're alone and have no support. And lastly, show them what it's like to go through an abortion. Sometimes scare tactics work. I know they did when I was in Driver's Ed. back in high school.

  10. The God-given gifts of sex and babies should not be presented as a scare tactic. Neither should it be shown as an entertainment activity. It's SACRED, which is why God regulated it.

    We tell kids not to run red lights when we teach drivers ed and they listen. If our ENTIRE society (not just the schools) said DON'T DO IT UNLESS YOU'RE MARRIED they would also listen. Unfortunately, when the PARENTS are complicit in demonstrating immoral, selfsh sex and relationship acts in front of their kids, the message that you can do whatever you want comes across loud and clear. Until Mom and Dad stop getting divorced, and cease from bringing home other people as their booty calls in front of their kids, teen pregnancy won't stop.

  11. Anon 10:16, whether sex and babies is a God given right or not, is not the issue. There's no doubt that God laid down rules regarding sex, but since the left has taken God out of almost everything in this country there is almost nothing left SACRED about sex. If society thought it was so sacred it wouldn't be all over TV, movies, radio, billboards, magazines, newspapers, etc., etc. Yes, when kids are taught not to run red lights in driver's education they listen because many of them have seen in real life and on film the consequences of running a red light. But regardless of how noble someone's thoughts are on the issue, kids are going to have sex and, even with parents, schools and society in general, preaching against it, it is going to happen anyway. If they have ALL the facts and alternatives properly explained to them, at least some of them will abstain and others will know how to practice safe sex and avoid the diseases and unwanted children. Hoping that the issue will go away if it's left up to the parents alone or if society in general speaks against it is a pretty naive attitude. The left is ready at any time to use scare tactics to get what they want, and here’s a perfect opportunity for them to use it in a positive way, for a change. But, this is not a political issue and I, as a conservative, do support using scare tactics to avert the damage caused by teen sex, teen abortions, teens spreading disease and teens having children they don’t need.

  12. This has become a sore subject with me. I live in the inner city. I see these ghetto trash nasty little girls who flip you off and call you a b*tch because you ask them to stop vulgar dancing and language in public. All while they have a baby on their hip. They think they can threaten you and talk to you anyway they like because they mess around sexually with gang bangers. So they will just get your house shot up or vandalized.

    So I am all in favor of free condoms and planned parenthood. I am also in favor of the harshest penalties for any gang connections.

  13. 10:16 - you said "when the PARENTS are complicit in demonstrating immoral, selfsh sex and relationship acts in front of their kids". What am I missing - what sex acts are parents doing in front of their kids?

  14. Anon 10:16 is just an idiot spouting off about something he knows nothing about.

  15. Planned Parenthood is an abortion-murder mill. They should never be used as a resource for anything. There are other organizations that can be tapped for help/education. Planned Parenthood is only in it for the money. They make all their money by promoting the wholesale murder/eugenics of the African-American people. It's a fact, check out Margaret Sanger's beliefs.

  16. When you interact with these vile hateful self serving mothers and absent fathers then planned parenthood doesn't sound so bad. I used to give money to anti-abortion groups. But now dealing with these people clearly they shouldn't have a child on their hip.

    Not sure on how to get that type to stop getting pregnant. They are not responsible for themselves even. It is a lifetime of torture to be raised that way if they survive at all.

  17. Sterilize them - no more rabbits.

  18. Anon 9:08, that type of low-life female (color not withstanding) is not going to change. It is simply a matter of acceptance. If they find their niche in a gang environment they will just be whores for the whole gang. They probably don't even know who the father(s) of their babies are. These females are not going to change. The ones to target are the girls that are not yet involved with the gang scum or prostituting themselves on the city streets. Political indoctrination of children (though wrong) is proven to be the most effective way to steer them. Hitler and the Japanese did a very effective job of it. That said, there is no reason why the same tactic can't be used in a constructive way where sex education is concerned. There are those that are beyond saving. But, there are many, many more that can be helped. Should we ignore the latter because of the former?

  19. Anon 2:16, though I am inclined to agree with you, this not Nazi Germany and we simply can not do that.

  20. Sterilize them. One baby no father in the picture, no money - sterilize them.

  21. nice post. thanks.