Education | Utah

Utah Moves Closer To Abstinence-Only Education: VIDEO

WrightAbstinence-only "sex education" is nearer to becoming a mandate in Utah after the State House quietly passed HB363 by a terrifying 45-28 margin last week. The bills' defenders have been saying weird things. From The Salt Lake Tribune:

"We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest," said bill sponsor Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden [pictured at right]. "Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?"

Even opponents of HB363 are frightened of sex. The Tribune quotes a Democrat who voted against the bill:

"You cannot speak of abstinence without talking to students about methods of birth control that are not certain, about protecting oneself from [sexually transmitted diseases] and all the things that can happen in a negative sense to a young person who engages in sex ," said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay. "It’s really immoral not to teach kids about what the consequences are."

With friends like that! Anyway -- the bill was debated on the House floor on Tuesday, with both its sexophobic supporters and slightly-less sexophobic opponents eventually hashing out something that somebody might call a compromise. As the bill stands now, schools uncomfortable with abstinence-only can elect to teach no sex ed at all, and nobody will be allowed to teach on the use of contraception. 

Note that this is very similar to the law as it already exists. Right now, Utah's educators may teach either abstinence-only or abstinence-only with some instruction on the use of contraceptives, so long as said instruction comes with the admonition that premarital sex is always wrong and dangerous. Alas, that's not strict enough:

"Maybe you’ve noticed that the world has figured out how to populate itself over thousands of years without sex education," said Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper. He said it’s "not good enough" to just avoid advocacy of contraception while teaching students about it.

Right. Because nothing says "propogate" like "contracept."

HB363 is so evil and silly that it's unworthy of editorial dismemberment. What it needs is a song. Roy Zimmerman supplies one AFTER THE JUMP ...


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  1. Utah? My mind abstained from even thinking about Utah twenty or thirty years ago.

    Posted by: Oliver | Feb 26, 2012 5:10:24 PM

  2. considering that the leading cause of death for males 15-30 in Utah is SUICIDE, and the majority of those suicides are Mormon, I'm rather puzzled by this. sex before marriage is "devastating" - right. and gay suicides aren't, because Mormons have no problem with their sons offing themselves at a disproportionate rate - they can merely baptize them after death.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Feb 26, 2012 5:31:00 PM

  3. Since the Mormons like having babies so damn much, how 'bout they spend all their time baptizing them and leave everybody else's dead relatives the hell alone?

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Feb 26, 2012 5:33:02 PM

  4. Mormon. The second m is silent

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 26, 2012 5:44:01 PM

  5. You go along in life assuming everyone has the same experiences. I always assumed my younger brother would learn about sex the same way I did, in school. The when he started asking me strange questions, I realized I needed to have "the talk" with him.

    In certain third world countries they keep people down and under control by not allowing them to be educated. Can you believe that the same thing is actually happening in America?

    Posted by: Jeff | Feb 26, 2012 5:45:19 PM

  6. Jeff- oh yes- an entire political party and its adherents are fierce advocates of keeping people uninformed, ill-informed, paranoid and frightened so that their fairy-tale god is the only one who can grant salvation to these folks.
    Umerica-ya gotta love it

    Posted by: nick | Feb 26, 2012 5:48:19 PM

  7. @Steve: Nice. I will use that again and again.

    Salt Lake City is the creepiest place that I've even been in the US. So white. So awful. Dating a "non-practicing" billionaire Mormon a few years later was worse. Turned out that every other word he said was a lie.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 26, 2012 5:58:26 PM

  8. "With friends like that..." BKT - what is your point? Education, to be comprehensive, would naturally include both the "good" and the "bad." It would not just be "sex positive," talking about how sexual attraction and activity are natural, or that masturbation is okay a la Jocelyn Elders (I'm hoping I remembered the name of the ousted Surgeon General correctly). It would be about telling kids that you can get pregnant the first time you have intercourse. It would be about the risks of unprotected sex as well as the limits of protection's effectiveness (e.g., you actually have to use it every time, condoms can break, etc.). I saw nothing wrong with Moss' point. If you are going to say that sex outside of marriage has consequences, you have to what those consequences are, positives as well as negatives.

    Posted by: TJ | Feb 26, 2012 6:06:44 PM

  9. @TJ
    Marriage has no place in sex education. Period. You can get pregnant in a marriage too. And it's not always a good or desirable thing.

    Yes, they need to be told about STDs and such too. But from a scientific and medical perspective. Not to force guilt and shame on them because that's what religion dictates.

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 26, 2012 6:12:35 PM

  10. Yes, agree with Moss's comments as well. I definitely want my son and daughter to know "all" the aspects of sex and then make there own "informed" choices. Let's face it, sex is fun and they're going to do it so give them the knowledge and tools to be safe.

    Posted by: RONTEX | Feb 26, 2012 6:29:32 PM

  11. problem solved - go to google - "channel 4 sex ed" --its all there sex and relationship education - UK public service broadcaster.
    Can't believe in the USA in the second decade of the twenty-first century CE, ignorance is a virtue?

    Posted by: JC | Feb 26, 2012 6:43:23 PM

  12. Spike in unwanted pregnancies, abortions and rectal and oral STDs coming to adolescent females in Utah.

    Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC | Feb 26, 2012 7:11:13 PM

  13. STEVE - my point about marriage was in the context of the apparent debate. Married or not, having sex can have consequences. All should be discussed. Abstinence only tells kids to wait until marriage. Okay. Then, why? Or why not? What is the evidence for and against taking that position? And most importantly, if you do have sex, how do you minimize risk?

    The Waxmen study showed that abstinence only programs were not better at preventing negative consequences such as unplanned, unwanted pregnancy. But more importantly, it showed that those kids were less likely to know what to do when temptation occurred. They were less likely to know how to protect themselves. Given that kids WILL be tempted, pure intentions or not, it seems more knowledge would be better than less. Or none. Fact is, whatever we intend to do in the future, when temptation in the present occurs we go for pleasure in the moment rather than loftier, future-oriented goals. It's why watching some mindless show on tv always wins out over that great documentary you recorded on the DVR months ago. You need to have a plan in order to resist temptation. And plans benefit from information, because you can then give reasons and implement solutions.

    But for the sake of argument, I'd say that finding oneself pregnant within an established relationship, legitimized by marriage, with the understanding that unprotected sex might lead to pregnancy and starting a family, might have fewer issues than a situation that began with, "What was your name again?"

    Posted by: TJ | Feb 26, 2012 7:44:40 PM

  14. Well the up side, didn't Obama go to comprehensive sex ed funding? Maybe god willing Utah will lose money!!

    Posted by: GeorgeM | Feb 26, 2012 7:46:03 PM

  15. Well, the GOP has zoomed past the fifties all the way to the 30's. How much farther back will we go? The Middle Ages?

    Posted by: Rance | Feb 26, 2012 11:41:24 PM


    "Something about you makes me want to wait" from Altar Boyz appears to be forthcoming Utah state policy.

    Posted by: BigGuy | Feb 27, 2012 2:37:17 AM

  17. My friends 13 year old nephew got a girl pregnant. When he talked about it with his father and uncle he explained to them that the girl and him only had sex once.

    Education would have been nice to prevent the pregnancy.

    Posted by: Dale | Feb 27, 2012 2:37:25 AM

  18. @Dale, these religious whack jobs aren't interested in preventing in preventing pregnancy.
    therein lies the issue.

    Posted by: Oliver | Feb 27, 2012 7:35:01 AM

  19. No wonder Utah is one of the highest ranked in watching pornography. All that trying to be good and repression of sexuality leads to additive behavior. If you are allowed to be who you are, this doesn't usually happen.

    Posted by: Snoopy | Feb 27, 2012 8:15:41 AM

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