Sex Education: Where the Right is Right and Wrong
August marks , hit the stores. If you haven’t bought a copy, please visit and buy one now. The story takes place in 1980 New Jersey as the state board of education begins to consider mandatory sex education in all grades. The fiction is that a conservative opposition rises to oppose sex education by electing like-minded candidates to school boards across the state. In the New Jersey of the eighties there were state mandates, but most politics was local. The state could push sex education on local school systems, but it would require aggressive advocacy and teacher instruction.

Twenty eight years after sex education was approved by our state legislature, I read opposing arguments from across the country no different from 1980. Today, August 12, I saw a slightly new twist from National Review Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez. I’ve always believed that people should see both sides of a debate, so I direct you to her piece. (see>

Lopez’ interesting twist is that sex education advocates try too hard to mix education with pop culture to make knowledge “cool” for kids, and the result is that they don’t learn what they should. I don’t dispute her point, but sex educators have not been the only guilty parties; look at the advertisers who market directly to children to get them to eat sweets or fast food or buy expensive and sometimes revealing clothes. The difference is that conservatives believe in a free, unregulated marketplace for the advertisers, but not for sex educators. It always amazes me that, when it comes to children, they don’t believe in a two way street.

There are effective ways to teach sex education without approaching the point of explicitness, by showing that abstinence is a true choice and showing respect for personal decisions. I’ve pointed out one site before: visit Sex Etc. at An effective sex education site should cover several topics including not only sex and sexually transmitted diseases, but also behaviors that cause sexual tensions, human relations and family life.

One point I tried to make in my novel is that sex education is about more than sex. I only wish the right wing would understand that without flying off the handle However, I add that sex education is like drivers education; if you teach it well, you can save lives, teach it poorly and you can damage lives. There should never be a flippantly taught, half-hearted sex education program in any school that goes too far to extremes.

Lopez points to a site for an organization that she likes called the Best Friends Foundation (see> Best Friends does much the same as a good sex education program, including peer counseling; only the organization places abstinence at the heart of its mission. And like Sex Etc., Best Friends does not go overboard to try to be cool to a teen audience so the message gets lost. They have my respect, but they’re giving only one side of the message. And that’s why abstinence-only money has been refused by half of our states.

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