Sent today, March 14, 2009, in response to a letter published this morning advocating abstinence-only sex ed for our teens after the local Youth Connection agency announced it would be giving out condoms and safe sex information at The Hub, an after-school center for youth here on Whidbey Island.
To the Editor:
While I sympathize with Judith Lamontagne's concern for our teens' sexual health, I do not agree that abstinence-only sex education programs are very helpful in teaching teens to respect their own bodies and their sexual nature. In fact, during the past 8 years when only abstinence-only sex ed has received federal funding, the rates of teen pregnancy and STD's have not fallen; rather, they have risen and sex educators nationwide have acknowledged that abstinence-only programs are generally unsuccessful in this regard. Teens do not respond well to scare tactics.
I applaud The Hub and Planned Parenthood for making condoms and safe sex information available to our teens, even though I would prefer that young men and women postpone sexual relationships until they are mature enough to accept the responsibility that accompanies sexual relationships. The statistics show that teens who receive only abstinence-only sex education are even more likely to have early, unprotected sexual relationships.
Our congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island, will offer, later this year, a comprehensive sex education program called "Our Whole Lives", geared to young adolescents and offering not only information about pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted disease but also accurate, supportive information about homosexuality and other sexual identity issues. This course has been developed jointly by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ and has been successfully taught for several years across the U.S. and Canada. For more information, parents may call the church office at 321-8656.
Inappropriate sexual behavior among our teens is definitely a matter for concern and needs to be taken seriously. However, abstinence-only education is not a good answer.
Rev. Kit Ketcham