Sex Education is not “Teaching Sex for Pleasure”

Lon Newman

Lon Newman, executive director of Family Planning Health Services in Central Wisconsin responds to Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth's recent assertion that teaching sex ed is "advocating" for teen sex.

Printed in the Juneau County Star Times – Saturday April 10, 2010

Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth wrote area school districts a letter which may intimidate teachers, administrators, and school board members from developing or teaching a comprehensive community-based human growth and development curriculum.

The unfortunate consequence of his action will not be to delay first sexual intercourse by Juneau County teens.  It is more likely that those teens, when they do become sexually active, will not have the information they need to protect themselves from unintended pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections. Many people do not get any sex education after high school, so it is also likely those teens will not have the health information they need to make informed health care and family planning decisions when they marry and/or become sexually active as adults.

District Attorney Southworth’s statement that schools teach about sex for pleasure or that sex education is analogous to teaching people ‘how to mix drinks,’ makes it obvious that he either was not in a reputable sex education program or he wasn’t paying attention. Although there are always a few examples of highly publicized unacceptable behavior that opponents of sex education point to, there is no accepted pre-college program that teaches human sexual response to minors and I know there is no Juneau County school district curriculum that teaches techniques of sexual pleasure.

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What do reproductive health educators teach young people?

  • They can prevent cancer by being vaccinated against HPV.
  • Consistent and correct use of condoms can prevent sexually transmitted infections.
  • Testicular and breast self-examinations are important preventive health care regimens.
  • Folic acid is important to pre-pregnancy planning.
  • Coercive sexual touching is illegal and destructive.
  • Hormonal contraception can prevent pregnancy.
  •  . . . and other information that helps people make informed decisions to protect their health.

None of the material is erotic and none of it could be considered in a court of law to be “encouraging young people to have sex.”

Family Planning Health Services (FPHS) is a private non-profit corporation with a mission based on the ideal that information is better than ignorance when it comes to sexual health. When we are invited to participate in any classroom, our presentation respects school district standards. We strive to be age-appropriate and medically accurate. Our first concern is always the health and well-being of community families.

District Attorney Southworth has gained a lot of media attention and there will be controversy and fund-raising on all sides of this issue.  Through that turmoil, FPHS will continue to provide the community with access to family planning services and education that is responsible and professional. We support Juneau county school districts who educate our young people and we promise to support any district or local teacher who provides lawful sexuality education as described in The Healthy Youth Act and who is charged with a crime by District Attorney Southworth.

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