Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Ohio's Abstinence Philosophy Explained

I blogged last month about the high school in Ohio where 65 girls were pregnant. Not surprisingly, that school had an abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum, meaning the health teachers taught kids to say no to sex, but didn't give them any information about how it works or how to avoid getting pregnant or spreading sexually transmitted infections.

As this school has received a lot of attention, it is interesting to read a little bit about Valerie Huber, the woman who is the director of Ohio's sex education programs. Her job is State Abstinence Coordinator at the Ohio Department of Health.

Now, I'm wondering, how do you coordinate abstinence? You ... make sure that everybody does nothing, like, at the same time? Or what?

I had a friend once who had the job of "organizing space at General Dynamics." Same thing. What do you do, man?

Anyway, I found this online article about the lady in charge of this wonderful sex-ed program that resulted in all these girls getting pregnant. She got involved when her son was going to high school:
"My vision was to make a difference in the life of one child - my son - but God had a much bigger vision." Last year Valerie left REACH [a non-profit organization] in the capable hands of Jan Seibel (another Grace Brethren) to take the position of State Abstinence Coordinator at the Ohio Department of Health. God carefully prepared Valerie to take on this sometimes-overwhelming responsibility. "Anyone who thinks that 'one person can't do much' forgets that God makes any battle or undertaking a majority!" She trusts that God will continue to use her in this secular environment, equipping her with all she needs.

The position of State Abstinence Coordinator was created as an answer to the health issues surrounding pre-marital sex. STDs, teen pregnancy, and teen suicide are all connected to the unwise option of a physical relationship before marriage. Previous strategies were ineffective in dealing with the continuing rise of these problems, so Congress marked monies for abstinence education. Many states, like Ohio, are now required to promote abstinence as the healthiest option. However, this program is still in its infancy, giving Valerie the unique opportunity to develop and fine-tune it. Valerie is infusing her Christian beliefs into this program. State of Ohio Hires Grace Brethren Abstinence Coordinator

I'm sure some of those teenagers' babies will be named after apostles, if that's what she had in mind.

This web site seems to be put here by an Ohio church, Grace Brethren, that Ms. Huber attends. The site is called "CE National," but they don't say anywhere what the CE stands for. Feel free to make something up.

Oh, here we go:
There are many organizations that claim to support abstinence. What is most confusing is that organizations like Planned Parenthood claim to support abstinence, but there is an immense difference between their working definitions. Valerie Huber defines abstinence as, "voluntarily refraining from sexual activity until marriage." There are two key differences in this definition from the one Planned Parenthood is offering. First, refrain from sexual activity - not just sex. Second, one must refrain from such activity until marriage. Many organizations support abstinence, but it is abstinence until you feel you're ready or simply feel like it. In other words, we're all abstinent until we do it again. Valerie Huber is advocating a different code of morality - the biblical standard of abstinence until marriage.

And it works so well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Huber has no right to impose *her* religious views on public school students in Ohio. Her job is to ensure all of those students are taught how to keep themselves safe and healthy. The reality is that about half of all teens have intercourse before leaving high school. She is completely ingoring the reality of half of her charges and endangering them.

If I was the mother of one of those pregnant girls, I'd demand Ms. Huber pay child support.


September 21, 2005 6:31 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Seems the State is at fault here- Ms. Huber got to do her obviously bad job because she was hired by Ohio. Given the many pregnant girls at one school- wonder what Ohio's stats will be for the whole state in pregnancy and STIs- given this woeful lack of education. Did they actually hire her to be State Abstinence coordinator or is that her church's title for her?

This woman "believed" really hard - but her fairy tale didn't come true.


September 21, 2005 7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Since 1997, the federal government has poured nearly a billion dollars into abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that deny teenagers critical information they need to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STDs. In addition, many of these programs promote gender stereotypes, discriminate against gay and lesbian youth and all too often proselytize on the public’s dime. Recent studies show that most abstinence-only programs do not prevent teens from having sex before marriage and that many actually deter teens who become sexually active from using condoms and getting tested and treated for STDs when they start having sex."
Not a very glowing indictment of Ms. Huber's preferred sex education curriculum. But the statistics don't lie; Ms. Huber's leadership is failing Ohio's public school students.

September 21, 2005 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there are 65 pregnancies going to term at that one high school, we can only guess how many other girls there had abortions instead, but that number too is probably significant.

A sex education program that doesn't teach sexually active teens how to protect themselves is bad for the teens and society as a whole.

Shame on Ms. Huber for her ignorant bias.

Aunt Bea

September 24, 2005 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone fathom that it is possibly not the State's job or Ms. Huber's job to teach kids about sex. Perhaps teaching should begin at home. Should all the blame be placed on one person or should we, a society as a whole, consider that we are all responsible. What do you truly value- statistics or these precious children of ours and the condition of their hearts? Can you look into your 4 year-old's eyes and say I don't love you enough to equip you to go out into this wilderness, I'll let someone else take care of you on that one. For those of you that aren't parents, can you think of how you felt when you were a teenager, what did you truly want, was it really sex or was it to be loved? I propose that love starts with the parent. So I say lets love these 65 girls so that they can love their children enough to teach them the values and dangers of sex outside of marriage. It's not a utopium dream, the sexual revolution had to start somewhere- so why can't a society reclaim it's family's values, it's started in this house, maybe yours will be next.

October 15, 2005 12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Not surprisingly, that school had an abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum, meaning the health teachers taught kids to say no to sex, but didn't give them any information about how it works or how to avoid getting pregnant or spreading sexually transmitted infections."
Actually, you've jumped to conclusions about abstinence education. In fact, abstinence educators spent a great deal of time talking about HIV and STI's and about 12% of their text curriculum is dedicated to just that (as opposed to 25% in "safer sex" curriculums). As far as "not giving any information on how it works or how to avoid getting pregnant," that's just not what abstinence is about, and so many people fail to understand that. The most important message that kids would like to hear this days is not "we know you're going to have sex so here's all the ways you can still have sex and maybe not get pregnant or get an STI" but rather "we believe in you and know you possess the physical ability and self control to say no to all pre-marital sexual behaviors." As a matter of fact, the Ohio House Bill 189 deemed Abstinence the only 100% effective way to protect against unwanted pregnancy, STI's, and HIV, so as far as teaching the "how-tos" of not getting pregnant and spreading STI's, it seems that abstinence programs are really hitting the nail on the head. I also find it strange that these 65 girls are coming from the same high school. Perhaps it is not the curriculum that is to blame here. It is more likely a fault of the teacher, or lack of neglect elsewhere in the program. Take this from a 19 year-old college student who had the privilege of attending a public high school that saw the importance of teaching a sexual abstinence education program, I'm so grateful my school acknowledged the importance of abstinence education because it has made all the difference in my decisions regarding my sexual behavior. I'm tired of people viewing this generation as careless sex fiends who are so ignorant and careless, the only important aspects of sexual education is contraceptives. I know I'm doing what I can to promote abstinence in my community and several of my peers are doing the same. I suggest those of you who oppose abstinence education wake up and realize this generation is smarter; we demand respect and the right to have choices. If you give us that I think you'll find that we'll not only be making better sexual choices, but starting a trend of abstaining that could set a true precedent for generations to come.

November 16, 2005 7:35 AM  

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