SEX ED: Educator Criticizes California For Refusing Abstinence Money
A commentary in Saturday's Los Angeles Times chastises California lawmakers for their decision not to fund abstinence-based sex ed programs -- choosing instead to advocate condom programs in schools. LaVerne Tolbert, an educator and former board member of Planned Parenthood, laments that $7.2 million in federal funds was made available to California under the welfare reform law of 1996 (and would have been matched by state and local agencies) but that the state "bow[ed] instead to those who would deny our children options that require self-control and self-respect." Tolbert notes that research shows "condom-distribution programs do not work," citing three examples of studies that determined that particular condom-distribution programs actually led to more STDs and pregnancies, or at least "had no positive effect at all." On a different front, Tolbert claims that condom-distribution programs are designed "to encourage inner-city high school students, who are the focus of contraceptive services, to 'plan ahead' and use condoms during sexual activity." Tolbert writes: "As an African American educator, I am appalled at the implication that our children are incapable of controlling themselves. And I am disheartened at leadership that denies African American and Latino children in California the right to learn the same skills that children across America are learning." Saying that condom distribution "create[s] a school environment that says that we expect and we accept sexual activity," Tolbert concludes: "Self-control, self-respect, delayed gratification, planning for the future, building healthy friendships and other values essential to abstinence education are necessary for every area of life, not just in the delay of sexual activity. ... Needless to say, California's rejection of free abstinence funds was extremely premature. Abstinence education deserves a fair chance" (6/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.