"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Fight Against Unhealthy Futures

Along with the emotional and intellectual genocide being perpetrated on the next generation through the abuse of standardized testing is the sexual genocide being promoted by organizations like Healthy Futures who are the beneficiaries of the latest fear mongering by right wing ideologues to impose their neocon agenda on the rest of us:
Massachusetts has received federal funding for abstinence-only education since 1998, but in the past it has been used to fund public information campaigns rather than for the classroom. Romney announced a change in that practice April 20, announcing that he would award the abstinence-only education provider Healthy Futures $300,000 in FY06 and $500,000 in FY07 in federal funding to provide abstinence-only education to schools throughout the state.
The battle raging over abstinence only sex education in state legislatures and school districts across the country is just a microcosm of a the larger cultural wars being fought over reproductive rights and health as the right wing religious fundamentalist neo-cons attempt to impose their version of moral hypocrisy on the next generation.

While the controversy over abstinence only sex education is not new, what is new is the ferocity with which federal dollars are being channeled away from a well-rounded health education curriculum into a religious and ideologically driven agenda of the right wing to turn the clocks back on reproductive health.

What's happening in Massachusetts illustrates the power of this well-funded orchestrated campaign to undermine reproductive rights and freedom as well as the health and well-being of the nation's youth:
HIV/AIDS advocates are hoping to block an amendment that would allow Gov. Mitt Romney to use federal funding to fund abstinence-only sex education programs. The Senate budget proposal from the Ways and Means Committee contains a provision preventing the state from using state or federal funds for abstinence-only education, but Sen. Steven Baddour (D-Haverhill) filed an amendment to the budget that would remove that provision.

Sophie Godley, AIDS Action’s deputy director of programs, said federal funding to companies providing abstinence-only education curricula would allow those companies to offer schools their services free of charge. Godley said schools have seen their state funding for health classes plummet, and given the choice between no sex ed or free abstinence-only sex ed, she expects many schools will take the latter option. She said many of the companies providing these curricula specifically advocate abstinence-only until heterosexual marriage. Abstinence-only curricula would also exclude all information about how to protect oneself from STDs by practicing safer sex. “There will be more offerings of these anti-gay unscientifically based [curricula], there’s no evidence that these programs work, and they’ll be pushed into more school districts,” said Godley.
How does what's going on in schools mirror what's happening in the world of adults?

As this illuminating article published in the New York Times Magazine a few weeks ago by Russel Shorto titled Contra-Contraception reveals, the indoctrination of young people into the unhealthy and scientifically-incorrect mindset of abstince until marriage is just another trick being used by those who want to not only outlaw and ban abortion but outlaw all forms of contraception.
To the dismay of many public-health officials, and following the will of conservative Christian organizations, the Bush administration has steadily moved the federal family-planning program in the direction of an abstinence-only-until-marriage program. Some conservative groups and some Republicans in Congress have waged a campaign against condoms in recent years, claiming they are less effective than popularly believed in preventing pregnancy and protecting against sexually transmitted diseases.
By turning the clocks back on sexual education these political hacks are playing a dangerous game with the lives of children who are already reeling from the deprivation of a curriculum that refuses to acknowledge their rights as whole human beings struggling to navigate the treacherous waters of adolescence.

Despite the war on sex, however, intelligent, concerned parents are fighting back and finding ways to counter yet another big lie by this Administration and its fascist cronies to stamp on the most basic and fundamental rights of its citizens to pursue happiness. One woman's crusade to stand up to these bullies has resulted in a documentary film Abstinence Comes to Albuquerque.
The documentary Abstinence Comes to Albuquerque is a case study of abstinence-only sex education in one school district in Albuquerque, NM — and the controversy it engendered. This is just one example of what is happening across the country as a result of the federal government spending millions of dollars on unproven abstinence-only education programs.
The film begins in 2005, when Susan Rodriguez, outraged that a faith-based group is running a mandatory abstinence-only sex education program at her daughter's public high school, brings her concerns to the Albuquerque school board.

Rodriguez was dismayed that the sex education curriculum used in the Albuquerque school district was full of inaccuracies similar to those identified in the landmark December 2004
report commissioned by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). The Waxman report found that more than two-thirds of government-funded abstinence-only programs distort information and mislead young people by giving them false information about abortion and contraception, particularly about the effectiveness of condoms.

What happened in Albuquerque is just one example of what is happening across the country. Charles Stuart, the filmmaker, explains that Abstinence Comes to Albuquerque comes at a crucial time. "There are controversies all over the U.S. where abstinence-only money is coming into the communities and the school systems," he says. "And there are many, many places where this is happening because 47 states take some form of federal abstinence dollars."

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