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Of ANWR and Abstinence
Jonathan Pait
June 13, 2001

Recently, I was doing my daily headline checking and came across two related headlines on the foxnews.com Web site. The first headline read, “Abstinence Pays Off.” The second to grab my attention stated, “Hypocrisy Charges in the Sunshine State.”

The abstinence story is pretty well explained in the headline. The point of the article was to show that there is evidence that abstinence education does work. The hypocrisy story needs a little more explanation.

It tells of a spat between Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla. and Democrat delegates of his state. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. has introduced a bill that would open up the seabed off the Gulf coast of Florida for gas drilling. Rep. Foley accuses the Democrats of hypocrisy because they give Sen. Bingaman a free ride while they attack President Bush for being anti-environment. Of course, he is so because he wishes to open the same area and others for drilling.

So, you ask, “What on earth does that have to do with abstinence education? More than that, what does drilling off the coast of Florida have to do with Greenville, SC?” Hang with me. It might be a little convoluted, but I think there is a connection.

It isn’t the main thrust of the articles that made me draw a connection. Rather it was some of the quotations to be found there. The first that struck me was from Barry W. Lynn of the Americans United for the Separation of church and state. The writer of the article, Kelley Beaucar with FoxNews, reports that Mr. Lynn, speaking for a coalition concerned about funding for abstinence education, says . . .

the funding "violates the spirit of the separation of church and state," as he says abstinence education is a form of religious indoctrination put forth by the "religious right."

"Parents should at least be aware that their children are being indoctrinated into views that they may not believe themselves," he said.

The coalition argues that students should not only be taught abstinence, but prevention, beginning as early as middle school. They say that the "just say no approach" doesn’t work and that teachers are scared to teach anything other than "abstinence-only" in light of the federal funding requirements.

I trust Ms. Beaucar will forgive me for quoting extensively from her article, but another section caught my attention.
Judy Blume also spoke for the coalition. Blume is the author of numerous children’s books that not only have addressed the issues of adolescent sexuality over the last 20 years, but have been the subject of censorship in schools across the country because of their often graphic language and subject matter.

She said that if she and her classmates in the 1950s had been given "sexuality education," they might have not married so young or divorced so regularly. She suggested that students ought to be allowed to talk about masturbation and "how to be sexual without intercourse."

Furthermore, the National Association of Education, another member of the coalition, says there is no mandate for abstinence-only education.

Now we return to the article about the spat in Florida. Ms. Sharon Kehnemui, with FoxNews, writes in her report:
While Graham and Bingaman are at odds over drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, they both oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), an area that the president has suggested could be opened to drilling. Bingaman's spokesman Wicker said that ANWR is "virgin territory" and should not be touched.
Now, I don’t know where Sen. Bingaman stands on abstinence education and I don’t know what Barry Lynn thinks of drilling in ANWR. However, I would be interested to know how many who march in protest of drilling the virgin territory of Alaska could care less about the ending of the virginity of their sons and daughters.

America and Greenville would be a much better place if we expressed as much concern for the purity of our children as we do the purity of our environment.

The articles referenced above appear below. These links may become inactive at any time.

- Florida Congressman Blasts Democratic Hypocrisy on Environment
- Love May Wait, But Federal Dollars Don't

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