Abstinence Education Faces an Uncertain Future

When Jami Waite graduated from high school this year in this northeastern Texas town, her parents sat damp-eyed in the metal bleachers of Bobcat Stadium, proud in every way possible. Their youngest daughter was leaving childhood an honor graduate, a band member, a true friend, a head cheerleader ”” and a steadfast virgin.

“People can be abstinent, and it’s not weird,” she declared. With her face on billboards and on TV, Ms. Waite has been an emblem of sexual abstinence for Virginity Rules, which has risen from a single operation in nearby Longview to become an eight-county abstinence franchise.

For the first time, however, Virginity Rules and 700 kindred abstinence education programs are fighting serious threats to their future. Eleven state health departments rejected abstinence education this year, while legislatures in Colorado, Iowa and Washington passed laws that could kill, or at least wound, its presence in public schools.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Sexuality

26 comments on “Abstinence Education Faces an Uncertain Future

  1. DonGander says:

    What is the alternative to abstinence, rutting like the beasts?


  2. MargaretG says:

    It is interesting that there is such a move against the abstinence education when the statistics show that abstinence among young people is on the rise.

  3. DonGander says:

    “…statistics show that abstinence among young people is on the rise.”

    It doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve often thought that most of sex education and abortion is so that dirty old men can find a lot of targets. In the history of the world there has never been a time when a man can be as promiscuous as he can be now with little or no repercussions at all.

    God help our children!

    God also give us wisdom.


  4. Jill C. says:

    Abstinence — it’s so unscientific, so unnatural! (Uh-huh)

    As much as I dislike big government funding all these various programs, the value of teaching abstinence is a no-brainer. We tell our kids, “just say no” to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and other things that can harm them or cut short their lives, why not apply the same principles to premarital sex? Many of us know from experience that this activity can affect our present and future relationships in a negative way, mess up our own self-worth, to say nothing of possible veneral disease or pregnancy. And of course in the public schools we can’t even get into the spiritual consequences . . . . or God’s plan for a safe and healthy sex life!

  5. chips says:

    As a conservative who does support an emphasis on abstinence as any part of a sex education course , I fail to see the harm though in educating high school age children on how their reproductive system works (as in biology) and that there are ways to reduce the chances of pregnancy and veneral disease. Many of todays kids come from disfuntional families (or parents of limited educational means themselves) and their ability to do serious research is questionalble. For many their senior year in high school is the end for education and some may marry shortly thereafter. If they do not learn about reproduction in school or from competent parents where will they learn it from? Believe me there will always be older boys more than willing to explain at least certain aspects of it to their younger girlfriends.

  6. chips says:

    The problem with just say no is that unlike heroine there is an appropriate time and place for sex – we do need to educate older children/ young adults on the biological facts they would be confronted with inside marriage. There is no – well now that your married lets go back to Central High and take the sex ed course that we couldn’t tell you about because you were single.

  7. DonGander says:


    My whole adult life until a few years ago I thought basically as you think. But now, as I see my nieces and nephews self-distructing their own homes and lives in spite fo a good education and good churches, I can no longer think in such a way. I don’t know what the final answer is but education is not the answer – at least not the deducation that is currently happening.

    As I have said, my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, all had far less sex education with infinitely greater results than what I see around me. I have concluded that all knowlege is not good and useful knowlege.

    In charity, what is the answer? God help us, please!


  8. chips says:

    Dear DonGander:
    I think what you are seeing is a general breakdown in values or relaxing of moral standards in society – a well taught sex ed course cannot have more negative effect than what is on TV. I also believe that there was more premarital sex than you were aware of before and that it was kept more quiet and in more instances an unplanned pregnancy resulting in marriage. I have read that in colonial days (source: Albion’s Seed a history of English settlement in America) about half of brides in Virginia were pregnant on their wedding day. I think some knowledge about sex which everyone over the age of 12 has is more dangerous than full knoweledge. I fear that lack of knowledge about birth control is not a realistic impediment to teenage sex. But again the emphasis has to be on abstinece as part of society’s values – but the reality is that the average age is around 15.5. At my Jesuit Prep School the Priest (who was a standup orthodox fellow) told the class that the church is against premarital sex and against birth control and both were sins – but that if you were to break one rule for God’s sake break the second. I would rather have more use of birth control and therefore fewer abortions.

  9. DonGander says:


    I have plenty of raw data that is evidence that your supposition, that premarital sex and unwed births were anything like today, is incorrect. Check the 1900 census reports for starters. In my father’s generation, I know of the unwed births – both of them, out of 100+ births to families.

    I do know that in New York City it was said that 1/3rd of the children bornt there were to unwed mothers. This is quite possible as it balances the 2% rate in the rural areas to the national average of 3%.

    As to women being pregnant at their weddings (and other cover-ups), perhaps that is part of the anwer – soddomy and various other sexual sins should go back in the closet. Jesus prayed, “Lead us not into temptation” but we brazenly lead multitudes into temptation.


  10. chips says:

    I agree that the unwed births in 1900 would be rare (a massive taboo)- though I suspect that many that did occur were given up for adoption and would not show on a census. My point was that absent the societal taboos in place in the Victorian era through the 1950’s and in an age where middle class folks delay marriage until after college/grad school – there are few 25 year old virgins (average age at first marriages is now I think over 25). Abstinence education is very important but folks need to know how their bodies work even in marriage – values need to be reinforced in class, at home and at church.

  11. Bob Lee says:

    Abstinence—works every time it’s tried.


  12. Scotsreb says:

    Why are progressives, liberals, etc., so afraid of abstinence that they invoke the power of the state to supress it?

  13. DonGander says:

    “Why are progressives, liberals, etc., so afraid of abstinence that they invoke the power of the state to supress it?”

    Progressives, liberals, etc., want a policy that produces an endless supply of young targets for dirty old men.

    Well, if not my answer, what makes more sense?


  14. chips says:

    Dear DonGander:
    Okay I am game. Why do you believe that sex education leads younger woman to have sex with dirty old men? Most teenage/college age womens’ first sexual encounter is with their boyfriend of a similiar age or slightly older. Yes there is a bias amongst progressives against abstinence and that is wrong – but sending young adults out into the world without a basic understanding of the biology of reproduction and how to better protect themselves from pregnancy and stds only makes them more vurnable to dirty old men. I do not think sex ed focuses on the glamour of sex – typically it is and should be focused on the negative consequences. To think that how to have sex is not known (perhaps not in every detail but close enough) by every 16 year old in America is naive. I am confused/alarmed as to why so many of my fellow conservatives are afraid of sex ed in which abstinence is taught and emphasized which also includes the information young adults need to know about how to get pregnant and how not to get pregnant.

  15. Reactionary says:

    Reproduction is an instinct. “Sex education” does not tell sexually mature human beings much beyond what they already know. And does anyone really know any parents who have not had “the talk” by the time the kids are 10 to 12?

    Also, if we are going to stress abstinence, we need to lessen the years spent (i.e., wasted) in school and lower the age at which people are generally getting married.

  16. chips says:

    The trend of the comments other than mine appears to be more nashing of teeth against the culture than any real critique of comprehensive sex education course. I am sure that some sex ed courses may discuss the actual sex act themselves and that is not likely necessary – popular culture has taken care of that. But we are kidding ourselves if we think that all parents have a talk with their kids or that the talk is always very comprehensive. Changing the age that people marry is beyond the scope of the state. I think that it is generally well known that most people now have sex before marriage – we can by stressing abstinece hope to raise the age of the first occurance but it is a pipe dream to think that virginity until marriage is going to make a significant comeback. The Dutch (and yes they are a hedonistic lot) do have comprehensive sex ed and I think they have a lower abortion rate. I would think that the prolife movement which I support would want a strong abstinence campaign coupled with (pun intended) a comprehensive understanding of birth control. Modern birth control should make 90% (yes there is a failure rate) of abortions in this country not occur. To send teenage girls out into the world with an incomplete understanding of their bodies and means to better protect themselves if they go off the reservation is irresponsible.

  17. Reactionary says:


    There is an easy device to lower marriage ages: simply make schooling non-compulsory past age 14 if not 12. Or abolish compulsory schooling completely.

  18. chips says:

    You do of course realize that your comments make our side look loony.

  19. Reactionary says:

    Hey, I got a great idea! Let’s TAX land, use the proceeds to force sexually mature humans capable of independent thought into education warehouses run by bureaucrats that are so inherently dysfunctional they mst be run on a penitentiary model, and call anybody who questions such a scheme “loony!”

  20. chips says:

    Yes but under your plan we would have illiterate youth rather than simi-illiterate youth roaming the streets instead of being wharehoused. The public education system in many areas is bad – but chaos is not a viable option. We conservatives cannot just throw stones we must also be able to govern. To dismantle our education system in order to lower the age of marriage in order to promote abstinece outside of marriage is not serious policy discussion. Sexual maturity has little corelation with maturity and the ability to run a household, raise a family, and hold a job. At 37 I still consider the trifecta a challenge.

  21. Reactionary says:

    Compulsory public education is a very recent experiment in human history. It is an experiment that is nearing its end, as more and more people opt out of an inherently flawed system.

    The proper conservative view is that the education of children is a family matter. The idea that if education is not at gunpoint the streets will fill with illiterate urchins is hysterical fantasy. People were more well-read and marketable to employers when education was non-compulsory.

    Marriage and childbirth in one’s late twenties or thirties is likewise a very recent phenomenon in human history. Where the government intercedes against biology to give people the option of extended dependency, they will gladly take it.

  22. chips says:

    Yes those that can opt if the local schools are bad and they can afford it by all means they should or move to an area where the schools are good – I am a product of both private and surburban public schools. Education has been compusory for over 100 years in most places in this country – I am not sure what would happen to the children of low and no income families – prior to compuslory education there were urchins in the streets or in the prisons – it is unlawful to employ a 14 year old in most occupations – they also can’t drive (though I guess you would change that as well). Your proposals would make inner city America look more like a bad Dickens novel.
    I think marriage and childbirth in ones late twenties and thirties have less to do with governmnet intercession against biology than the fact that middle class and upper class families do not want their children to marry before leaving school at age 22 -25 and the fact that sex outside of marriage is readily available. The ones who marry or at least have children before age 21 come from the lower income strata which would no longer be educated under your plan(despite 7 years of higher education I could not teach my child pre-cal if I had to).

  23. Reactionary says:

    And guess what: [i]since[/i] compulsory education there are urchins in the streets and in the prisons and people with masters degrees who still don’t know pre-calc after going thousands of dollars in debt to be educated. Inner city America already looks like a bad Dickens novel. Some people are simply uneducable. They will have to learn a trade or starve instead of being paid money to be poor and violent.

    Society functioned beautifully for many centuries without government departments of education that serve primarily to propagandize for dependency on government.

  24. Reactionary says:

    And since we have ventured a bit off-topic, this is why I frankly am skeptical even of “Abstinence Education.” Why on God’s earth should public schools venture into the area at all in the twelve years we are told it takes to give people a basic education? But again, where government offers to fill what is properly a function of adult family members, people will gladly cede to it.

  25. DonGander says:

    “Okay I am game. Why do you believe that sex education leads younger woman to have sex with dirty old men? ”

    It is no game; it is deadly – life and death – serious.

    I have been travelling for several days and regret that I could not respond to this challenge sooner.

    It all comes down to one singular thing; either we expect young people to rut like the beasts or we see them as human beings – made by God and created in God’s image. Until that debate is settled, we will argue to a non-solution. Public schools set the pattern of human rutting 80 years ago and we are seeing the fruits of that decision in the downward slide of culture ever since. There will be reactionary periods of time but there is no “bottom”. We will arrive at total and abject hedonism in time, but even that is not the bottom.

    Christianity has had to deal with this problem in the past and did so successfully. It must do so again – there is no other hope.


    PS. I had the privilage to live in a house built by a man whose family was a good friend, supporter, and confidant of Woodrow Wilson. I have been made aware of some of the little known concepts and attitudes, and politics behind the secularization of Princeton College. This is but a small part of history but we may not ignore the past if we are to recognize our current state and the solutions available. I don’t know what the solutions are but I know that we have some damned horrific problems. I am NOT saying that non-education is the answer. I am just saying that education is NOT the answer.

  26. DonGander says:


    I want to more directly address your “dirty old men” question.

    I saw it in my own high school in 1968. I saw an athletic coach stand in front of a room full of high school men and women and smirk as he impressed us all with his knowlege of the many and intimate details of the female anatomy.

    But key is the knowlege that I can press any legal female for sex without repercussions; procreation is optional, there are many ways to protect one’s self from the real dangers of irrational sex. This is either partial truths or non-truths but are taught anyway. Add to that the egalitarian arguement that is made in class that women have the right to sex (they never use “sex” exactly, when I was in school, but the inference is but skin deep) as men do, and again, without repercussions, but with a legal system that supports the lie. This is an environment that is perfect for those dirty old men to find many more sexual targets.

    You might say that it is not the schools but Hollywood and our culture that sexualizes young girls and creates these problems, but I say that if schools were doing their job culture would have little effect upon students. Culture is a follower and not a leader.