Yesterday, I spoke to college students at North Dakota State University in Fargo and Concordia College in neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota. I also spoke to a smaller group of engaging students training to be mental health professionals. Having talked to these youth, it was disturbing to read two articles in the local newspaper, The Forum, that discussed how ideologues in North Dakota were trying to essentially brainwash youth with religious propaganda disguised as science.
The first article I read was about North Dakota lawmakers’ efforts to pass House Bill 1229, which would require schools to lie to students about sex and force failed abstinence programs on them — at the expense of their health and reality. The laughably absurd bill would make schools across the state teach that abstinence is the expected standard and sexuality outside marriage is likely to have harmful psychological effects.
What a bunch of ridiculous fundamentalist talking points masquerading as research! Contrary to what religious fanatics are pushing, there are no known harmful side effects to the out-of-wedlock orgasm. The harm usually comes when those having sex are not informed about birth control or engage in unsafe sexual activity because they were lied to about the effectiveness of condoms. In other words, the zealots are the cause of harm, not the solution, as they are disingenuously presenting themselves.
The foolish bill goes on to insult single parents by claiming that bearing children out of wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society. Of course, two parents is preferable in that it takes pressure off one parent. However, there are countless examples of amazing children from single parent homes — as well as countless instances where children from two-parent homes turn out to be less than ideal.
For example, Tuscon shooter Jared Loughner came from a two-parent home. So did Seung-Hui Cho who perpetrated a massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007. Meanwhile, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, came from a single parent situation. Placing the blame for society’s ills on single parents is insulting and shows that promoters of this bill live in a “Leave it to Beaver” fantasy world.
The most comical part of the bill would have teachers tell students to attain “economic self-sufficiency” before engaging in sexual activity. Of course, we all know that in today’s “fair” America, students often leave universities with massive debts and do not achieve financial stability until much later in life.
Are those in favor of this bill really suggesting that North Dakota’s citizens abstain from sex into their thirties and forties when college loans are paid off and marriage is more affordable? What planet do these Bismarck Buffoons live on?
Now get ready for the biggest laugh of all:
“Students often tell me that they didn’t realize that saving sex for marriage was ever an option or that anybody ever did that,” said Rebecca Meidinger of Make a Sound Choice. “It’s a new idea to them. Nobody else is giving them this message.”
The extreme dishonesty of this woman is breathtaking. The idea of abstinence until marriage is age-old and anybody with a set of ears and eyes is aware of it by the time they are eight. To repackage and present abstinence as new or revolutionary shows the chutzpah of these peddling this lie. These charlatans are all about public relations and really do not seem to care how backward public policies affect real people.
Of course, we know that abstinence programs do not work and are a huge waste of money. Here is the truth.
A 2008 study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that “pro-life” abstinence-only programs — marketed by the religious right, funded by the Bush administration, and imposed upon public schools in conservative school districts across the United States — may achieve the opposite of their intended objectives. According to The Washington Post, the study focused on “virginity pledges,” a core element of abstinence-only education:
The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a “virginity pledge,” but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.
“Taking a pledge doesn’t seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior,” said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. “But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking.”
The study is the latest in a series that have raised questions about programs that focus on encouraging abstinence until marriage, including those that specifically ask students to publicly declare their intention to remain virgins. The new analysis, however, goes beyond earlier analyses by focusing on teens who had similar values about sex and other issues before they took a virginity pledge.
The data on this matter is clear — and it defies logic and shows a shows a stunning lack of integrity to push programs that are a complete and utter failure. It seems that some so-called conservatives care more about deception than deficits and have no compunction about lavishing public money on social programs that are ineffective.
If the abstinence farce weren’t bad enough, the same “Bismarck Buffoons” are proposing a bill (SB 2367) that would make divorce much more difficult. If the bill becomes law, anyone wanting a divorce would have to wait one year and go through mandatory marriage counseling.
According to The Forum, “marriages with sustained allegations of of domestic abuse would be exempt. I’m not sure what to make of this provision. How many times does one have to batter his wife before it becomes “sustained”? Will the legislature empower bureaucrats to start counting bruises so abused wives can qualify as victims of “sustained” beatings?
This bill’s extraordinary overreach is a vivid example of Big Government gone awry. For example, within the one-year waiting period, couples would need to participate jointly or separately in at least 10 one-hour marriage counseling sessions.
And right wing conservatives call liberals socialists?
This busy-body bill has got to be the single biggest example of government intrusion and control of citizens’ personal lives that I have ever seen. This bill is something that one would expect to see in Iran, not North Dakota. Any voter that cares about individual freedom and liberty should throw the bums out of office that proposed this legislation.
It is clear that this campaign of control does not stop with gay people. We are simply their first target. The long overreach of this bill and the attempt to turn North Dakota into a big government Nanny State run by fundamentalist scolds proves my point. If we lose our rights, you will surely lose yours. The writing is on the wall, if you care to read it.
I met so many amazing people in Fargo and Moorhead. It is a shame that North Dakota ideologues are divorced from reality and abstaining from facts. The state’s youth will be the big losers if they succeed. I sure hope sanity will prevail.