I'm a huge hater on abstinence-based sex ed. I've never been able to fathom why omitting vital, straightforward information about reproduction from young women & men is supposed to be in any way helpful. Opponents of sex ed make it seem like teaching these lesson plans is as steamy as one of my Grandma Jeanne's "bosom heaver" romance novels (with Fabio airbrushed on the cover no less). It's all kinds of messed up to lie to kids, then expect them to make informed choices that will keep them STD free and prevent unplanned pregnancies. Duh.
But my distaste for this manipulative behavior boiled into rage when I saw this blog post on my friend Porter's Buzz Feed today. Great job, pro-abstinence jerks. Looks like your stupid, misleading public school programs- which by the way, are using tax payer dollars for curriculum that seem to me to be based on religious doctrines, therefore blatantly violating church & state separations- are an epic fail.
Thanks for letting down kids- and, in my opinion, especially young women- when they need support and an honest, healthy discourse on sexuality- the most. LAME.
Explaining Variation in Teen Pregnancy Rates by State: Race and Sex Education
The Centers for Disease Control report that pregnancy rates for U.S. girls age 15-19 vary quite significantly by state: from 66/1,000 in Mississippi to 20/1,000 in New Hampshire (dark and light green represent states with teen pregnancy rates lower than the U.S. average; dark and light purple represent states in which it is higher):
The Centers for Disease Control reports that the disparity can be explained, in part, by the fact that Blacks and Latinos tend to have higher rates of teen pregnancy than other racial groups such that states with higher proportions of Blacks and Latinos would have higher rates. However, rates among different racial/ethnic populations also vary quite tremendously by state. Among white teenagers the teen pregnancy rate ranged from 4/1,000 (in the District of Columbia) to 55/1,000 (in Mississippi), among Black teenagers, it ranged from 17/1,000 (in Hawaii) to 95/1,000 (in Wisconsin), and among Latinas it ranged from 31/1,000 (in Maine) to 188/1,000 (in Alabama).
Race, then, doesn’t predict differences in rates of teen pregnancy all by itself. In fact, White teenagers are more likely to get pregnant in some states than Black and Latina teenagers in others. There must be something region- or state-specific driving teen pregnancy rates.
The CDC doesn’t mention sex education, but Mike Lillis at The Hill compared teen pregnancy rates to a sex education policy report by the Guttmacher Institute. He writes:
All five states with the highest teen birth rates have adopted policies requiring that abstinence be stressed when taught as part of sex education, HIV education or both, the group found. Only one of the five states (New Mexico) mandates that sex education be a part of students’ curriculum.
Of the four states with the lowest teen birth rates, none requires that abstinence be stressed to students, according to Guttmacher.