Condom Nation: Government Sex Education Promotes Teen Pregnancy

Article excerpt

During the debate over her confirmation last year, Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders sketched her strategy for combating teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases with her usual sledgehammer bluntness: "I tell every girl that when she goes out on a date--put a condom in her purse." Dr. Elders lamented that schools teach youngsters how to drive but "don't tell them what to do in the back seat."

In fact, they do, and have been doing so for decades in the form of explicit sex-education programs and school-based clinics. And that is the problem. Premarital sexual activity and pregnancy have increased in step with the increase in the programs. One of every 10 teenage girls in the United States now becomes pregnant each year. Studies published by the government family planners indicate that these problems are very likely the result of their programs. For example, one such study found that contraceptive education increased the odds of 14-year-olds starting intercourse by 50 percent.

SEX EDUCATION FOR ALL

None of these facts has ruffled Dr. Elders and her allies in the Clinton Administration. Dr. Elders has called for greatly expanding the government commitment to comprehensive sex education from kindergarten through 12th grade, though the surgeon general prefers starting at age three. She wants free contraceptives and abortion referrals through schools and clinics. In his first weeks of office, President Clinton extended the services of federal family-planning clinics and increased their budgets by $100 million. His proposal for health-care reform gives a prominent place to school clinics.

The Clinton administration's expansion of family planning is only the most recent step in a long march of government-engineered sex education. In 1964 a private coalition of educators and activists founded the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to "expand the scope of sex education to all age levels and groups." Since then, its curriculum has helped form the basis for sex-ed guidelines in most public schools. In 1965 Congress began to subsidize birth control for the poor. Beginning in 1967, Congress enacted program after program to extend government birth control. This culminated in the Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 1978, which specifically targeted teenagers, even though they were covered in other programs.

Today, sex education is taught from kindergarten through college throughout the nation. In New York, second-graders stand before their classes to name and point to their genital organs. In California, children model genital organs in clay and fit condoms on cucumbers. From such books as Changing Bodies, Changing Lives, children are learning alternative forms of sexual expression--including oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, and homosexuality.

At the same time, government-supported "family planning" clinics have blanketed the country, providing young, unmarried men and women with pills, condoms, and abortions--usually without parental notification. School-based clinics, 24 of them in Arkansas alone, often make condoms and other birth-control devices available to children, and even refer teenage girls for abortions without their parents knowledge. The number of school-based clinics has grown from 12 in 1980 to at least 325 in 1993, according to the Center for Population Options. All told, federal and state expenditures for contraceptive services increased from $350 million in 1980 to $645 million in 1992-not including abortions, sterilizations, and most sex education.

A RECORD OF FAILURE

It is bad enough that public money is being used to advance a sexuality agenda that many families find objectionable. What is inexplicable is that these government efforts continue--trumpeted by our nation's chief medical officer--in the face of mounting and irrefutably negative evidence.

Proponents of sex education argue that government family planning increases the use of contraceptives. …