Yesterday I wrote about CNN and their hosting of Richard Cohen, the "Conversion Therapist" who claims that he can cure homosexuality and proves it by citing his own conversion and successful marriage. Today, as reported here, a District Attorney in Juneau, Wisconsin has distributed a letter to teachers and school administrators as they begin to develop a plan to implement a new state law, The Healthy Youth Act, next fall. In this letter, DA Southworth warns teachers that should they "follow a new state law requiring them to instruct students on how to use condoms and other contraceptives" they could be arrested.
Wisconsin Act 139 requires that schools provide sex education to students utilizing "...medically accurate, age-appropriate information, including how to use birth control and prevent sexually transmitted disease. It also requires the classes to include information about how to recognize the signs of abuse and how alcohol can affect decision making." Appropriately, parents will be allowed to opt-out of the program, and schools can choose not to participate as long as they notify parents of their decision to do so.
In his letter, Mr. Southworth states that because it is a crime for anyone under the age of 16 to engage in sexual activity, providing instruction on how to utilize contraception "Promotes the sexual assault of children." Typical of the Christianist agenda, Mr. Southworth states that providing this information encourages children to engage in sexual activity and that "... our school districts should never promote illegal activity."
Referring to the Wisconsin criminal code dealing with contributing to the delinquency of minors, Mr. Southwork says in his letter that if a "... teacher knows a child is engaging in sexual activity or that the natural and probable consequences of the teacher's instruction is to cause that child to engage in sexual intercourse with a child..." they are again liable to be charged with a crime. He claims that depending on the child's behavior, the teacher could be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. He states that providing facts about contraception is legal, but providing instruction on their use, is "implicit encouragement."
Mr. Southworth's continues by claiming that if this horrendous action occurs, parental authority will be undermined. He says that effect, schools will be encouraging children to seek "other family members" to communicate their questions about sexuality and sexual behavior. He believes this will cause them to "... shop around for any family member who will provide the approval they want..."
And finally, any class in sex education will of course provide information on gender stereotypes and might even (oh the horror) give them information about transgender and transsexual individuals. Of course, every student must be treated with dignity and respect (right), but these new laws, according to Southworth, will disallow any instruction by the school on the morality of these controversial issues and inject "unnecessary politics" into the classrooms.
There's more, of course, but I'll ignore the fear of Planned Parenthood having access to the children of Juneau County, and the punishment inflicted on schools, families, and teachers who want to maintain high moral standards. Sigh.
Mr. Southworth claims to know what he is talking about because he deals with numerous sexual assaults as a District Attorney. I know what I'm talking about as well when I say that sex education does not increase sexual activity, it decreases it. Providing information about contraception (including the proper use) does not encourage young people to engage in sexual activity, in fact, it is more likely to discourage it. Knowledge is power, and the more we give to our young people, the more likely they are to make the right decisions. Statistics have shown that young people will be sexually active but if they have information about contraception and disease prevention, they are less likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy or STD. Classes that teach young people about the reality of teen parenthood also increase the use of contraception (you would not believe how many of my teen clients thought it would be fun to have a little baby to play with and cuddle).
Forcing religious views on everyone is wrong and that is what the Southworth's of the world are trying to do. Morality to some is all about sexual behavior. To others? It is about what happens after that behavior has occurred. Mr. Southworth claims to have knowledge of sexual assault of children, yet cannot understand that children may need the force of law to be able to have an alternate family member other than parents to speak to and for them (maybe it was Daddy that got her pregnant, after all). Demanding that we all adhere to his perspective of the family being one mom, one dad, and children denies the reality of this country, and I would bet, his county. If he wants sexual assaults of children to continue, unwanted teen pregnancies to continue, sexually transmitted diseases to continue, the teen suicide rate to remain the same, and young people making all the wrong choices about their own sexual behaviors, then he should continue to threaten the educators who should be receiving his support and appreciation.
Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.