Magazine article Insight on the News

Liberals Itching to Take Abstinence-Only Courses to Court

Magazine article Insight on the News

Liberals Itching to Take Abstinence-Only Courses to Court

Article excerpt

The battle over abstinence-only sex education is about to be ratcheted up as those favoring a more liberal approach to sex education are being encouraged to take their fight to the courts. That's the tactic being recommended by a Cornell University law professor and a Washington attorney in a legal journal article titled "Keeping the Sex in Sex Education: The First Amendment's Religion Clauses and the Sex Education Debate."

Gary Simson, a professor and expert on constitutional law, and Erika Sussman, a litigation associate with Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman LLP in Washington, say abstinence-only programs endorse the views on sex urged by, and identified most prominently with, the Christian Coalition and its allies on the "religious right."

The authors say abstinence-only programs can be defeated in the courts because they violate the First Amendment's prohibition on laws "respecting an establishment of religion." The article appears in the latest issue of the Southern California Review of Law and Women 's Studies, published by the University of Southern California Law School.

Critics of abstinence-only education programs say teen-agers need "comprehensive sexuality education," including the "Just Say No" approach. But, since some young people won't just say no, they say the courses should include detailed information on birth control and disease prevention.

Statistics seen as supporting the need for more-detailed programs include those attributed to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claiming that two-thirds of American high-school seniors have engaged in sexual intercourse. …

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