Bitch Magazine ran a great look at the history of sex education. I found the section on abstinence-only intriguing. Thought I'd share:
Advocates for Youth Executive Director Debra Hauser taught sex education in New Jersey public schools during the 1990s, during a time when American sex education funding went through a major change. Under pressure from social conservatives, the federal government began funding primarily abstinence-only sex education—between 1996 and 2010, the government spent $1.5 billion on abstinence-only programs.
“There were these industries that grew up around this money,” says Hauser. “Schools would contract with ‘educators’ to come in and give lessons. These people would really use a lot of shame and fear, ignoring LGBTQ issues, demonizing condoms and contraception.”
When Robert Eberwein looked at sex-ed films made by religious groups, specifically Focus on the Family, he found a stark difference between them and other films used in schools. The premise of 1993's The Myth of Safe Sex, narrated by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, is clear. It includes a lot of dubious information, including the claim that using condoms results in pregnancy 25 percent of the time and that Planned Parenthood exists to promote a rise in pregnancies and abortions. “The ideological agenda of the film is simple: to discredit any federal or social organizations and programs promoting sex education outside the kind of religious framework and values represented by Dobson.”
Another Focus on the Family film voices similarly terrifying claims: that condoms have a 31 percent failure rate and that teens who are sexually active have higher rates of suicide. Eberwein notes that these films echo the ominous tone of the military’s training films from the 1940s. “But in contrast the training films at least offered the possibility of protection through use of condoms and prophylaxis, these videos present sex and condoms as joint threats.”
Sex(Ed): The Movie includes a chilling clip from a 1991 video intended to be shown to students, No Second Chance. In the video, a woman extolls students to be abstinent while imagery of a kid playing with a gun rolls onscreen.
“When you use a condom, it's like playing Russian Roulette. There's less chance that when you pull the trigger, you're going to get a bullet in your head,” she tells a class of students. One teen boy pipes up.
“What if I want to have sex before I get married?” he asks.
“Well, I guess you just have to be prepared to die,” she responds.
In at least one school district, community members urged schools to add No Second Chance to their curriculum directly as a reaction to a video that they felt “emphasized condom use at the expense of promoting abstinence as the only sure way to avoid HIV infection.” A 1991 review of the movie in a Canadian pro-life newspaper stressed that the film was far better than “government-funded” sex ed-films: “What an exhilarating breath of fresh air! No condoms, no foam, no ‘meaningful relationships, or ‘responsible sexuality’ – just plain truth.”
A “public school version” of the No Second Chance is still being sold today on Amazon by Jeremiah Films, which also markets films on topics ranging from Freemasons and devil worship to a DVD about “cleansing the soil for the Aryan antichrist.”This is an awareness piece. I'm not going to do any analysis. I encourage everyone to read the link, which coves some really interesting stuff, and to be aware of what "abstinence-only" means. It means denying teens the right to their own bodies and sexuality.
To quote another 90s trend: Just say no to abstinence-only, guys.