In several earlier posts (see the links below), I have chronicled the ridiculous pronouncements of Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert and “rock legend” and NRA spokesman Ted Nugent. At the risk of giving these two bozos much more attention that they deserve, I think that it is important to chronicle the asinine things that they keep saying, primarily because no one in the GOP seems to think that there is any reason to acknowledge that what they are saying is asinine and damaging to the party’s image.
This past week, Gohmert turned his attention to sex education. In a radio interview, he asserted that he doesn’t see the point of sex education because “mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody. . . . We were able to make generations of babies without anyone telling us how to do it.” But it should come to no surprise to anyone that Gohmert’s primary concerns about sex education are not that it is, in essence, superfluous. No, he actually believes that it is damaging: “You don’t have to force this sexuality stuff into their life at such a point. It was never intended to be that way. They’ll find out soon enough.” So, he actually believes that sex education promotes sexual promiscuity, and he doesn’t seem to realize that this issue was debated and resolved three or four decades ago after a whole series of studies showed that young people who have received sex education are much less likely to become teenaged parents, to contract sexually transmitted diseases, and to objectify their sexual partners and to become mindlessly promiscuous. And Gohmert himself illustrates why one cannot assume that parents will be enlightened enough to provide adequate sex education to their children. Continue reading
The following item recently appeared on the Think Progress blog:
“Ohio lawmakers failed to advance an amendment to the state budget that would have prohibited sex ed classes from including any instruction of “gateway sexual activity” under penalty of a potential $5,000 fine. News of the provision sparked outrage earlier this week, particularly since banning any health materials that might ‘condone’ sexual contact doesn’t have much to do with the state’s economic policy.”
Yes, if you somehow missed it, the “jobs-focused” Republican legislature in Ohio actually considered a bill that would have banned most sex education in the state by calling it “gateway sexual activity.” That is, they applied language commonly used to refer to marijuana or other less addictive narcotics to sex education, implying that sex education leads to increased promiscuity and to a higher incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy. Never mind that there are some 600 studies that suggest the exact opposite. Never mind that study after study has shown that teen pregnancy is much more prevalent among teenagers who have not had sex education, regardless of their religious affiliation.
In order to counter the misinformation being spread by the bill’s sponsors, the coalition fighting for “comprehensive sex education” in Ohio schools—and by “comprehensive, they mean something more than the “Just Say No” approach of abstinence education (recall that Nancy Reagan advocated such an approach during the crack epidemic of the 1980s and how effective it was in meeting that crisis)—was forced to produce and circulate the information that I have reproduced at the end of this post.
More than anything that I can say, that fact that such basic information needs to be shared in 2013 demonstrates the extent to which the assertion of ideology over science has had a very regressive effect—educationally, politically, socio-economically, culturally, and ethically. Yes, ethically. I have placed the word “ethically” emphatically last because, however well-intentioned the authors of the bill may have been, their ideologically driven misapplication of power would have been directly responsible for complicating a great many young lives. And it is time, I think, to start holding our legislators as accountable as they insist that we need to hold our teachers and other public employees. Continue reading
North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani has announced a ban on a federal research grant to two faculty for a sex education program, after Republican legislators objected to its connection with Planned Parenthood. Bresciani claims to be obeying a state law, but that law only relates to family planning programs. Below is an open letter to Bresciani from Thomas Stone Carlson, president of the Faculty Senate, followed by the letter from Bresciani announcing his decision.