Robyn Urback: If you want to learn abstinence, go to church. Get Christian sex-ed out of secular public schools

A reminder of other forms of fundamentalism.

It is not just the anecdotes cited by Urback regarding the effectiveness of abstinence approaches; the contrast between California and Texas is striking (Texas Isn’t Keeping Up With National Drop in Teenage Births):

The Pregnancy Care Centre taught courses in about 60 Edmonton-area schools last year, according to executive director Norah Kennedy. She says that their presentations do not explicitly mention Christianity, though the Centre was founded on religious principles. “We are brought in to speak from an abstinence-based perspective; which differs from abstinence-only presentation,” she told the Edmonton Journal. “We present abstinence as the best and safest choice while also giving them a comprehensive overview of all of their options.”

That may be true (though the Dawsons’ complaints, which have yet to be proven, say otherwise). Even still, an abstinence-focused sexual education program will not offer the same wide-ranging, balanced approach to education that a class without an “agenda” can deliver. Indeed, there’s a difference between a lecturer telling students to use a condom if they must, and a lecturer showing students how to properly put on a condom, why they shouldn’t layer condoms (it happens, amazingly enough), why they should use a condom for both vaginal and anal sex (that happens in high school, too) and what to do if the condom breaks.

Students wanting to know about same-sex relationships, the morning after pill and other religious no-nos should also feel free to do so without judgment; that’s hard to do when someone from a faith-based organization is standing at the front of the class. This might be a human rights issue for Emily and her mom, but it’s arguably more an access to education issue for everyone else. Christian sex education should stay out of secular public schools.

The Edmonton School Board dropped the program offered by Pregnancy Care Centre following the complaint and publicity.

Robyn Urback: If you want to learn abstinence, go to church. Get Christian sex-ed out of secular public schools

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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