Updated: May 11, 2013 6:26AM
Once again, members of the Illinois Legislature are trying to mandate explicit, inappropriate sex education, as they attempt to do year after year. House Bill 2675 is peddled as an attempt to reduce “teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases,” but this is a ruse. We are aware of no research indicating that contraceptive-based sex-education classes have ever shown a reduction in teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. While the bill’s supporters claim “abstinence doesn’t work,” the reality is, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most high schools students are abstinent and the trend is growing — especially in Illinois, where abstinence programs have been taught in over 1,200 schools and organizations.
Over 20 years, as abstinence programs have become more popular with schools, the national teen birth rate has fallen by a remarkable 45 percent, and in Illinois by 49 percent. The national teen pregnancy rate has fallen by 37 percent, and in Illinois by 40 percent. The CDC reports that most high school students have never had sex.
Regardless, legislators want to require all schools that teach abstinence-until-marriage as the optimal health outcome to also teach teens to use contraception. This is problematic since most students aren’t sexually active, and requiring schools to teach contraception to unmarried youth will codify the sexual revolution, which began in the ’60s with the goal of separating sex from marriage. Researchers, such as Dr. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia, and Dr. George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of California Berkeley, have documented the role of the sexual revolution in declining marriage rates, increased premarital sex, and a host of consequences. The sexual revolution has been an unmitigated disaster for the American family, increasing the poverty rate.
Wilcox and Akerlof argue, “the sexual revolution — aided in part by widespread contraception — led to dramatic increases in non-marital childbearing.” Akerlof states: “Just at the time, about 1970, that the permanent cure to poverty seemed to be on the horizon and just at the time that women had obtained the tools to control the number and timing of their children, single motherhood and the feminization of poverty began their long and steady rise.”
Sadly for America’s children, as the sexual revolution has been mainstreamed into our educational system and media outlets, America has shifted away from its long history of marital and familial stability. More American children are born out of wedlock than ever before, with a non-marital birth rate of 41 percent overall and 72 percent in the black community. This is a terrible injustice because research indicates that these children are far more likely to suffer a clearly defined set of social consequences compared with their peers born to, and living with, their married parents.
Most high-school students are abstinent, and this should be encouraged because these teens aren’t getting pregnant, aren’t having abortions, and aren’t spreading STDs. Abstinent teens do better academically. Abstinence-until-marriage is objectively, the safest, healthiest choice for our youth. Politicians should allow schools to encourage teens to reserve all sexual activity and childbearing for a marriage relationship and to do so without compromise.
Scott Phelps is executive director of the Abstinence & Marriage Education Partnership near Chicago, and co-founder of the National Abstinence Education Association in Washington, D.C.