LETTER- Abstain from no-sex plan

I write in response to Courteney Stuart's July 13 article, "Don't do it: Abstaining from ‘no-sex' ed" which disclosed that the Pregnancy Centers of Central Virginia have quietly received a large government grant ($645,642, or enough to insure over 71,000 of America's 9.3 million children who are currently not covered by health insurance).

While the veil of secrecy surrounding the grant is intrinsically alarming, it is its intended use that is utterly unnerving. Stuart reported that the Centers aim to offer an abstinence-only sexual education program entitled "Why kNOw" to 30,000 adolescents in our area.

While the goals of such programs are noble (namely, to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infection, poverty, and unwanted teenage pregnancy by promoting abstinence), they have continuously been proven ineffective in our nation which has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the industrialized world.

The "why kNOw" program  alleges that the promotion of independent thinking is among its aims while simultaneously articulating a hetero-normative, misogynistic message and policing behavior. I wonder how a curriculum that spoon-feeds values to students can possibly work to instill decision-making and independent thinking skills?     

According to Stuart's article, "Why kNOw" is among the many abstinence-only education programs in the United States that place the burden of responsibility on female students and send the message that young males cannot control their sexual urges. These ideas perpetuate aggressiveness in males and passivity in females. Further, they exclude even the idea of homosexuality.

The actions of the Pregnancy Centers of Central Virginia are irresponsible on a number of fronts, and I suspect that if Charlottesville Public Schools decide to adopt this programming there will be negative consequences. By underestimating adolescents' capacity to think independently and not providing them with information about contraception options, abstinence-only sex-ed programs negate their own noble mission.

Lauren J. Germain, M.Ed.