By Joseph A. D’Agostino
May 13, 2005
It’s odd but refreshing that Montgomery Co., Md.’s sex-ed curriculum has produced such a controversy and a restraining order against it from a judge. The curriculum contains the usual systemic lies from America’s health and education establishments (in reality, they care nothing for either health or education), lies that not only permeate the sex indoctrination curricula of most public schools in this country but also many of the Third World programs funded by First World nations. The curriculum does go one step beyond the usual in trying to imply that one can be a good Christian while engaging in promiscuity and even sodomy, which apparently is what got the program into real hot water. Usually, such curricula officially ignore students’ and parents’ religious beliefs while indoctrinating children into their own implicitly pagan religious dogmas involving mystical sexuality. The curriculum promotes homosexual activity as normal and healthy while neglecting to mention its deadly nature, encapsulated in this astonishing fact: Up to 65% of sexually active homosexual men are dead or HIV-positive by the time they are 30.
On May 12, the Montgomery County Board of Education agreed to an extension of a temporary restraining order that will prevent the curriculum from being used in the schools at least until December 31. Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) and Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum sued the board over its new curriculum. Said Judge Alexander Williams in his original restraining order, The Court is extremely troubled by the willingness of Defendants to venture-or perhaps more correctly bound-into the crossroads of controversy where religion, morality, and homosexuality converge. . . . In this case, Defendants open up the classroom to the subject of homosexuality, and specifically, the moral rightness of the homosexual lifestyle. However, the Revised Curriculum presents only one view on the subject-that homosexuality is a natural and morally correct lifestyle-to the exclusion of other perspectives.
Yet the science behind the new curriculum is severely flawed as well, and the practice of selective omission leads young people down the path of self-destruction. Three scientists reviewed the curriculum and produced a report called Health Education as Social Advocacy. The authors of the report are Warren Throckmorton, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Counseling Services at Grove City College, Pa.; David Blakeslee, PsyD, of Lake Oswego, Ore.; and Ruth M. Jacobs, MD, an infectious disease specialist in Rockville, Md.
In reviewing the Montgomery County, Md., condom demonstration video, I was surprised to find factual errors, said Dr. Throckmorton. The film tells 10th graders that condoms are 98% effective but does not tell them that this figure does not apply to sexually transmitted infections. Further, the video does not tell students that this figure only applies to perfect use. In fact, typical use failure rates of condoms for pregnancy are around 15% for the average user. Condoms provide poor protection for many STIs, such as herpes and the human papilloma virus (HPV).
The most obvious lie of the decades-old gigantic, global safe sex (recently revised to safer sex) juggernaut: Condoms provide effective protection against pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). [T]he Vatican’s ban on condoms has cost many hundreds of thousands of lives from AIDS, wrote Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times on May 8. Kristof, who is apparently a moral theologian, informed the new Pope that he should endorse condom use to prevent disease, writing that let’s all pray he’ll make the courageous choice. It’s interesting to note that courageous choices in modern times always involve doing what today’s culturally, politically, and financially elite interests want you to do.
Of course, the opposite is true: The promotion of condoms has cost hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of lives worldwide. They engender a false sense of security and encourage people, particularly young people, to engage in promiscuity and unnatural sexual activity while relying on condoms for protection. But for anyone who engages in regular sexual activity, condoms offers poor protection against pregnancy, HIV infection, and some other STDs. A 15% failure rate, repeated over time, quickly adds up to a trip to a maternity ward, or to an AIDS hospice.
The Maryland curriculum tries to claim a 98% effectiveness rate. Says the critique from Throckmorton & co., The video says the condoms are 98% effective and gives the impression that this is for both pregnancy and STI [sexually transmitted infection] reduction. The video confuses the issue by not saying for what outcome condoms are 98% effective. Condoms are nowhere near 98% effective for STIs, especially herpes and HPV and in fact are much lower. It is true that condom failure rates approaching 2% have been reported with perfect use for pregnancies in groups of women that include older, mature females. However, typical condom use failure rates for pregnancy are estimated to be 15%. Typical use is defined as inconsistent and imperfect use which is more like how adolescents use condoms even with instructions. Withholding this information is irresponsible.
Yes, studies have shown that typical use of condoms produces a 15% failure rate. Perfect use among older, well-trained and -disciplined couples participating in a carefully controlled medical study may produce a 2% failure rate, but so what? That’s not very relevant for a curriculum aimed at 8th and 10th graders. How many kids are going to use condoms correctly with consistency-especially after they’ve had a few drinks or done some drugs, as so often happens before they engage in sexual activity? And that 15% failure rate applies to one year, i.e. after one year of typical condom use by adult couples, 15% of the women are pregnant. Extend that failure rate over a few years and pregnancy becomes a probability-and so does STD transmission for many diseases. Whether it does for HIV depends on the nature of the sexual activities being performed and the health of the skin of the performers. For example, it’s much easier to transmit HIV through anal intercourse than through normal intercourse.
That distinction is not made in the Maryland curriculum, though it could save the lives of many young people. The video mentions oral and anal sex without providing risk disclosure of such activities, says the report. The video states, ‘Remember to use a condom for oral, anal and vaginal sex.’ This advice is stunning in itself in that oral, anal and vaginal sexual relations are lumped together as if the risks in these practices were equivalent. The increased risk of STIs with anal sex is ignored by the video.
The religious fervor for promoting homosexuality is, of course, behind the omission of information about what kinds of sexual activity are safer than others. We do wonder why the risk factors attendant to a gay identity were not more obvious in the health education curriculum. This omission seems particularly troubling since the curriculum is supposed to be designed to help protect children during a vulnerable time, the report says. For example, recent research suggests that those at highest risk for HIV infection, young men with many sex partners, appear to be the least likely to have changed their sexual behaviors since the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Despite being just 2-3% of the population, gay and bisexual men accounted for 44% of new HIV cases reported between 2000-2003.
Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, M.S., M.D., of Princeton has said, Any program, club, or curriculum that signals to students that homosexual behavior is ‘just another lifestyle’ places children at tremendous risk. Data from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that for boys and young men in North America who identify themselves as homosexual even if the identification is only temporary, which as has been documented in numerous large-scale sociological studies in America, France, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, as is the case with the majority of such self-identified homosexuals-the risk of being either HIV-positive or dead by age 30 may now be as high as 65%.
Disputes over the content of sex indoctrination curricula are moot. The only way to prevent illegitimate pregnancy and STDs is through chastity and monogamy. That’s why we have had an enormous explosion of illegitimate pregnancies and STDs since the 1960s. Only virtuous behavior, not modern technology, can prevent these ills (see Dr. Meg Meeker’s book Epidemic for more on the exponentially growing spread of STDs). Sex indoctrination programs only encourage the unhealthy behavior. People in the United States report their first sexual experience as occurring at age 16.9 years on average, says Throckmorton and his associates. By contrast, Taiwan, reports their average age for similar behavior as 18.3 years. It is important to note that the United States begins sex education 1.3 years earlier than children in Taiwan. In fact, there is a world-wide linear relationship between age sex education begins and sexual debut. In other words, the earlier a country initiates sexual education, the earlier adolescents begin to have sex (emphasis in original).
The Maryland curriculum omits all the data on sexually active adolescents being far more likely to be depressed than abstinent ones, on the 72% of girls who regret losing their virginity as early as they did, and similar statistics. When the restraining order is lifted, don’t be surprised if they are still missing.
Joseph A. D’Agostino is Vice President for Communications at Population Research Institute.