Marriage Promotion Trumps Effective Prevention Strategies In Abstinence-Only Programs


Abstinence-only-until-marriage
program have always been more about marriage than they are about sex. Though they are often billed as
replacements for comprehensive sexuality education or as teen pregnancy or STD
prevention programs, in truth, they are more focused on promoting marriage than
preventing anything.

SIECUS reviewed
the five curricula in the Choosing the Best series as well as a new
supplemental curriculum produced by WAIT Training and found that the marriage
mandate is pervasive. a

According to
these curricula, everybody wants to and should get married. Choosing
the Best SOUL MATE
starts by asking students “Why do over 80% of teens have
a goal of being happily married?”

The author never
does say where he gets that statistic. Instead, the curriculum goes on to
explain why marriage is good. It describes marriage as the “super-glue that
holds a relationship together as it matures” and says it reduces abandonment
issues, fosters trust, and encourages resolving conflicts and disagreements.

Maybe this is
true in some marriages but there are certainly married couples who still
grapple with trust and abandonment issues for example. Moreover, given the high rate of
divorce (which the curriculum readily acknowledges), it is clear that marriage
in and of itself does not necessarily encourage couples to resolve conflicts or
disagreements.

WAIT Training gets even more
specific in handout titled “The Good Stuff of Marriage” that includes such
assertions as:

Married couples
seem to build more wealth on average than singles or cohabitating couples

marriage
is associated with better health and lower rates of injury and disability for
both men and women

Healthy
marriages appear to reduce the risk that adults will either be the perpetrator
or the victim of a crime

Note the abundant use of qualifiers: “seems to build,” “appears to increase,” and “is associated
with.” What the authors deliberately
fail to include is a discussion of how these benefits may be linked to other
variables besides marriage and how other relationships may generate some of the
same benefits.

Marriage
is also hailed as the solution to unintended pregnancy and STDs. In the unit on
HIV, Choosing the Best LIFE says
this: “The only way to eliminate 100% of the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS
sexually is to be abstinent until
marriage, marry an uninfected partner and both people must remain faithful in
the marriage relationship.

There
is certainly truth to this statement; if two individuals enter into a
monogamous relationship when they are uninfected, stay faithful to each other,
and both avoid contracting HIV through other means such as infected needles,
they will remain HIV free. The key
to this arrangement, however, is the lifelong monogamous relationship. Whether
or not these two individuals are legally married is irrelevant from a public
health perspective.

Even some of the stories used in the curricula prove that a wedding ring
is not sufficient protection.

I
was rushed to the hospital with intense abdominal pain. Emergency surgery
revealed such an extensive infection that my uterus, tubes and ovaries all had
to be removed. My husband of six months had infected me with gonorrhea, which
he had contracted from a ‘one-night stand’ prior to our engagement. Our dreams
of biological children will never be realized.

It is entirely
possible that the narrator of this story followed the advice given by Choosing
the Best LIFE
and remained abstinent until her wedding night. Her exposure
to gonorrhea proves that she would have been better served by a curriculum that
provided her with information on how STDs are transmitted, how they can be
prevented, and the need for all partners to get tested. Moreover, both she and
her husband would have benefited from skills-based lessons on communications
around sexual health.

Instead, the curricula focus on marriage. Choosing the Best SOUL
MATE
includes exercises designed to help kids be good at marriage. For example, students are asked to pack
their “marriage survival kit” by selecting five items from a list of 18. Possible items include “a commitment to working to maintain
and improve your relationship,” “set of cookbooks,” “framed copy of marriage
license and best wedding photograph,” “Book: ‘What Wives Wish Husbands Knew
About Women,’” and “phone number of the nearest florist.”

The lesson here,
that communication and commitment are critical to a healthy marriage is not a
bad message for young people to learn.
Still, given that these students are a decade away from the average age
of first marriage, it seems silly to focus a lesson on communication solely on
marriage. These are skills that
young people should learn because they can help them in future friendships and
relationships regardless of whether they ever marry.

Unfortunately, the only
time the curricula discuss other relationships is when they are explaining why
such relationships are inferior.

SOUL MATE includes a lesson on living together
called, “Cohabitating: Sex without strings, relationships without rings.” It begins the lesson by saying “A
majority of young people feel it is a good idea to live together before getting
married to find out if they are really compatible and thus avoid the risk of
divorce or being ‘trapped in an unhappy marriage.’” It never does say exactly why this seemingly reasonable
opinion is not.

Instead, it just
reiterates that cohabitation is wrong, that couples who live together will not
have happy marriages, and even suggests that those who choose to do so have
inherent character flaws: “Unwed couples living together may have problems
making and keeping commitments.”

WAIT Training takes aim at
some other family structures and suggests that nothing but two-parent marriage
will work: “Teens in both
one-parent and remarried homes typically display more deviant behavior and
commit more delinquent acts than do teens whose parents stayed married. Studies show that two married,
biological parents have the means and the motivation to appropriately monitor
and discipline boys in ways that reduce the likelihood that they will pose a
threat to the social order.”

Let’s just put aside the fact that the authors called half their
class a potential threat to the social order —this quote reveals the rigidity
of WAIT Training’s ideas about marriage because it asserts that families with
parents who have remarried or parents who adopt or foster children, for
example, cannot successfully raise boys.

While these discussions are aimed at directing the future life
choices of young people, many students will likely see the implications toward
their own family structures. It is unfair and potentially harmful to suggest to
young people—who as children have no control over their current familial
situation—that their families are any less valuable than others.

This discussion on family structure brings us to the curricula’s
complete failure to acknowledge gay and lesbian students and families.

A number of the Choosing the Best curricula actually have as their
purpose helping young people develop healthy relationships with members of the
opposite sex. And, WAIT Training uses its lessons on brain
development to explain why young people feel a “strong attraction to the
opposite sex.” All of the
curricula simply ignore the possibility of same-sex couples or homosexual
individuals; all stories, video clips, references, and activities revolve
around heterosexual relationships.

In Choosing the Best JOURNEY,
for example, a lesson on “Developing the Best Relationships” starts with videos
about heterosexual couples.
Students are then divided into separate groups of guys and girls: “Ask
the guy group to write down the top five qualities they are looking for in a
girl and what they think the girls are coming up with [top five qualities they
are looking for in a boy].” The
girl group is asked the reverse.

This exercise leaves no room for young people who are attracted to
members of the same sex. There is
no reason for such discrimination, the same brainstorm could occur simply by
asking young people in mixed-gender groups to come up with a list of what they
are looking for in a romantic partner.

By refusing to be inclusive, the author is showing a clear bias
against same-sex couples, and curricula written exclusively for heterosexual
students are not appropriate for a classroom setting.

Contrary to the curricula’s presentation – the marriage imperative is
not a universally held value.
There are 98 million adults in this country who are classified as single
because they have never married, are divorced, widowed, or cohabitating. It is not the place for educational
programs to tell these adults that their relationships are inferior any more
than it is their place to tell young people that they must marry.

Students would be better served by programs that allow them to think
critically about relationships, make decisions based on their values and the
values of their families, and learn skills that will help them regardless of
what relationships they chose.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Martha Kempner on twitter: @MarthaKempner

  • crowepps

    “Studies show that two married, biological parents have the means and the motivation to appropriately monitor and discipline boys in ways that reduce the likelihood that they will pose a threat to the social order.”

     

    Let’s just put aside the fact that the authors called half their class a potential threat to the social order —this quote reveals the rigidity of WAIT Training’s ideas about marriage because it asserts that families with parents who have remarried or parents who adopt or foster children, for example, cannot successfully raise boys.

    It also totally overlooks the fact that perhaps the reason that one of the biological parents isn’t still there that he/she is exactly the kind of person who is NOT capable to appropriately monitoring or disciplining a boy. A woman who throws out her abusive husband or a man who divorces his Oxy-addicted wife because she neglects the kids may have a more realistic idea of whether or not that person is capable of raising children, and so may the court which cuts off the access of substance abusers to their children.

     

    Find their ‘boy as dangerous animal’ approach to sex education pretty appalling, though. Certainly reinforces for those boys that they’re incapable of controlling themselves and that other people have to take the responsibility to monitor and control their inherent male tendency to be anti-social.

  • anonymous99

    Very nice job Martha. Just one comment… “Moreover, given the high rate of divorce (which the curriculum readily acknowledges), it is clear that marriage in and of itself does not necessarily encourage couples to resolve conflicts or disagreements.” The divorce rate is about 50%, but that hardly captures the true failure rate of marriage. Many people, mostly men, decide to stay in their unhappy marriages because of fear of losing their children, their savings, and/or a good chunk of their future earnings in divorce. This is especially true when a dependent spouse is involved. Note that women account for 70% of divorce filings. That’s 35 (70% x 50%) out of 100 women who marry ultimately file for divorce. Just 15 (30% x 50%) out of 100 men who marry file for divorce. Should we ever get child abduction and marital slavery reform to even the playing field for men and workers the divorce rate would skyrocket. If men could freely divorce without their world being stolen from them we would see the divorce rate at 70%. “Choosing the Best SOUL MATE includes exercises designed to help kids be good at marriage.” Remember that marriage IS a state-run welfare program. That’s about it. These fantasies about marital bliss and happiness are completely ridiculous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • the-watcher

    I would love for my (hypothetical) kid to go a school that teaches WAIT Training. S/he would keep interrupting the teacher and ask questions about the points that you brought up. And then I’d love to know what the teacher’s answers will be, because there aren’t any. Certainly not any good ones.

    “Yes, teacher, but what about…”

  • joneen-mackenzie-rn

    Wow! You really are obsessed with WAIT Training and what we do. We at WAIT Training are obsessed about the health and well being of children and adults as well as being data driven in relation to poverty, and disease prevention. Who said this?
    “We cannot renew our country when, in a decade, half of all our children will be born into families where there is no marriage”. It was President Bill Clinton in his 1994 State of the Union Address. In 1996 he changed welfare “as we know it” and created the Welfare Reform and Social Responsibility Act changing AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) to TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). Three out of the 4 TANF criteria have to do with marriage and safe and stable family formation. If you are upset with WAIT Training about talking about safe and stable family formation and marriage, also direct your rage to former President Bill Clinton or even to CDC-DASH. Here is the actual working of the CDC-DASH School Sexual Health Guidelines endorsed by many organizations.
    “School systems should make programs available that will enable and encourage young people who have not engaged in sexual intercourse to:

    Abstain from sexual intercourse until they are ready to establish a mutually monogamous relationship within the context of marriage.
    Any health information developed by the Federal Government that will be used for education should encourage responsible sexual behavior–based on fidelity, commitment, and maturity, placing sexuality within the context of marriage.”

    Marriage is not the end all be all nor do we promote marriage. Many marriages do end in divorce, but no one goes into a lifetime partnership with a goal to get divorced. It happens way too often and many people, especially the children, are hurt by it. Sometimes marriages need to end. No one in our organization would ever put down single parent families or any other kind of family. Having a web of support and love is good and it comes in many forms. However, the vast body of literature would inform us that healthy marriages are good for children. Why are you so threatened by that? Aren’t you all about the research?
    Additionally, our gay friends are fighting to get married.
    Simply the goals of WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?) Training are to teach the science of healthy relationships, helping young people to delay sexual debut so that they can remain clear headed and intentional about how they define their best life going forward. Then we educate, equip and empower them to live well, love well and (should they desire to be married someday in their future), to marry well. Respectfully submitted: Joneen Mackenzie RN

  • colleen

    If you are upset with WAIT Training about talking about safe and stable family formation and marriage, also direct your rage to former President Bill Clinton

    Oh, believe me, I do. Not as much as I blame the Republican party and the ‘family values’ crowd in it’s entirety (led at that time by such remarkable examples of marital fidelity and Christian values as Newt Gingrich, of course, Rush Limbaugh)
    One wonders why y’all don’t educate, equip and empower your elected officials and religious right leadership to live well, love well and marry well. Or are they not inclined to take instruction from women?

    p>
    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • ahunt

    Snerk…

     

    Hey Colleen…try selling WAIT to three sons who knew damn good and well that Mom and Dad were into the hot monkey love waaaay before the nuptuals. (We married early, admittedly)

     

    In fact…folks ought not to be surprised if kids take offense at the perceived slight towards their parents, and dismiss the teachings out of hand.

  • colleen

    to any reasonably intelligent child.
    It sounds like WAIT training is a bunch condescending middle class republican women getting paid to demonstrate their god given superiority to low income single mothers as a mandatory part of some welfare to work program. It’s a sort of jobs program for the religious right. Once the TANF recipients complete the personal hygiene portion the lucky ones will be able to work as cleaning ladies.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • joneen-mackenzie-rn

    WAIT Training is not about left or right, religious or secular. It is about the condition of the human heart and the longing to be loved, cherished, adored and valued. In fact, the students and the adults who are from the most high risk communities and from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds are the most responsive to the love lessons and skill buidling in the WAIT Training curriculum.

    I thought you all were tolerant and open to a diversity of ideas. I also thought you were advocates for children and the oppressed. I guess I was wrong.

    Respectfully submitted: Joneen Mackenzie RN

  • ahunt
     
    FACT: Condoms are not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy or any STD

     
    From the website, front and center. The point being what….exactly?
  • the-watcher

    Simply the goals of WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?) Training are to teach the science of healthy relationships, helping young people to delay sexual debut so that they can remain clear headed and intentional about how they define their best life going forward.

    Delay it until when? Marriage? Only marriage, and always marriage? Why?

     

    Then we educate, equip and empower them to live well, love well and (should they desire to be married someday in their future), to marry well.

    So then you teach them about contraception? Because I can’t imagine any course that teaches someone to "love well" without teaching them to do it as safely as realistically possible.

  • joneen-mackenzie-rn

    WAIT Training follows the CDC-DASH Sexual Health Guidelines , “until they are ready to establish a mutually monogamous relationship within the context of marriage.”
    for optimal health and wellness.

    And yes, we give information about condoms and contraceptives.

    We just don’t start there.

    Respectfully submitted, Joneen Mackenzie RN

  • wildthing

    We have many more than one Soulmate. If isn’t wise to focus on only one. Group marriage handles the abandonment issue better and has all of the positives too while accomodating biodiversity and multiple soulmates and changing to a different bonding group without as much pain. It helps with the increasingly complex demands of maintaining a home and it allows for less children among more people. This is a much bigger issue as we reach the increasing necessity to control pollution growth to zero. Groups could include younger persons also as apprentices.

  • anonymous99

    "until they are ready to establish a mutually monogamous relationship within the context of marriage."

    Joneen, Noone minds if you teach WAIT training to your own kids or at your local church, etc.  To each his own.  But make no mistake your views are nothing more than religious dogma and culture, unbending, intolerant, discriminatory, and simply unrealistic for most people.  Exactly what are people supposed to do if they never marry?  I, for one, don’t want WAIT training anywhere near my daughter.  Fear, guilt, and shame – it’s the same message from people like you time after time but packaged in a different way.  I’m not buying it and thanks to Martha again for alerting unsuspecting parents of your program.

  • joneen-mackenzie-rn

    Dear Anonymous99,

    How sad for your daughter that you will not allow her to learn the science of healthy relationships, the stages of attachment, the stages of commitment, the steps of intimacy, the multi-dimensions of building intimacy with herself and others, identifying her love language, helping her find her voice in relation to communicating feelings and setting boundaries, valuing her amazing personality;learning how to be intentional as she decides rather than slides into relationships, life mapping, conflict resolution, creative problem solving, decsion making, dealing with peer pressure,strategies to aviod drugs and alcohol, media and financial literacy and partner selection strategies. These are just some of the few life skills your daughter would learn in WAIT Training.

    How would you know what my views are? Do you know me? Have you read through the curriculum? Have you talked with parents and students who have been through it? Do
    you know the research behind the development of this program? Have you made an effort to educate yourself? From the angry tone of this blog entry, it would seem to me that the answers to these questions are a resounding NO.

    Now… who is being dogmatic, unbending, intolerant, discriminatory and judgmental?

    If you would really like to have a dialogue rather than sounding shrill, I suggest you be courageous and state your name rather than being annoymous.

    Respectfully submitted: Joneen Mackenzie RN

  • darby

    She can learn all those things and more without your silly little program. I have no doubt you believe in what you’re doing, but the scope of what you teach and how you teach it is too limited and burdened with harmful stereotypes for what some people want for their young ones.

  • anonymous99

    Joneen, I have someone in mind to teach her all those things.  ME.  Thanks but no thanks.  Financial literacy?  Really?  You’re all experts at that too?  You’re program is designed to teach young people to WAIT until they’re married to have sex.  Are you denying that’s the main purpose?  The average age of first marriage today is 26 or 27 Joneen.  Even for those young people who do get married you’re placing absurd expectations on them.  I’ve seen first hand the pain and anguish of a man in his late twenties who was struggling with this.  Maybe you don’t realize that girls in Biblical times typically married when they were just 13.  Waiting until marriage then was pretty easy I think we could agree.  I find you wanting to teach my daughter this ancient custom in our modern world absurd.  And BTW I’m not going to let you bully me into giving you my name.  I’ve had MANY disagreements with people on this board and I don’t recall anyone calling me out like this.  I have my reasons for remaining anonymous and most people seem to respect that.

  • joneen-mackenzie-rn

    Dear Anonymous 99,
    I am delighted to know that you will be teaching your daughter these life skills that are in WAIT Training. The research is clear. Parents are the BEST ones to provide this information because they are the most influential. Having an involved parent like you to teach these concepts helps build protective factors in children. So.. I applaud you!

    The goals we have outlined for WAIT Training are measurable and quantifiable.

    The goals of WAIT Training are to:
    -Increase the age of sexual debut
    -Reduce the number of sexual partners
    -Reduce non marital pregnancy rates
    -Reduce sexually transmitted infections and diseases
    -Reduce dating and intimate partner violence
    -Reduce the number of students who use drugs and alcohol
    -Increase the number of students who are willing to return to a healthy choice even if they have been sexually active
    -Increase the number of students who are sexually active who get tested for STDs
    -Increase the number of sexually active students who get counseled by a medical professional in a clinical setting to use risk reducers consistently and correctly.
    -Increase the number of students who have the knowledge and skills to have healthy relationships
    Increase the number of students who value a lifetime committed monogamous love relationship commonly known as marriage.

    Waiting until marriage is not a measureable goal and no one in our agency desires to be the sex police to follow a student to marriage. WAIT Training takes an incremental approach to behavior change and social norming.

    Waiting until and in preparation for marraige IS the optimal health choice and a worthwhile health goal for some. However, calling it absurd is like calling the United Nations absurd. The goal of the United Nations is world peace, is it not? Have we EVER had world peace? No we have not…but it continues to be a noble and worthwhile goal.

    What we are trying to accomplish is this.. approximately 40% (and in some communities it is 70 %) of babies are born into families where there is no marriage. Of the 60% that are born into marriages 50% of those marriages fracture and dissolve. A safe and stable home is something all children need.

    This is becoming the social norm. Many of the students we serve do not even know they have the option to wait and be loved and cherished. We are trying to teach them soemthing called success sequenceing. We used to know this instinctively. Remember this? Dick and Jane sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage. That is not a jingle our children learn any more.

    If we are going to do the best we can do for a child’s sake, the emperical data is robust and plentiful, that to reduce poverty, drama, disease and dysfunction, we must be helpful in creating safe and stable homes and families.

    I am sorry you felt like you were being bullied into stating your name. That was not my intent. I now understand you have your reasons for staying anonymous.

    Respectfully submitted: Joneen Mackenzie RN

  • princess-rot

    I find it highly amusing that apparently, one can learn all one needs to know about human relationships from a children’s playground rhyme. No better than getting a sexual education from a collection of Bronze Age fables, I suppose. The assertion that everyone in the entire world is and wants to be heterosexual, fecund,  monogamous and married is absurd, which is the point anon99 is making, despite your spectacular failure to comprehend it.

     

    Married, when you even admitted that most marriages fail. To me, that would be a huge indicator that the "expected life plan" of marriage and kids does not work most of the time and it’s just a case of people caving to societal pressure to conform. We need to accept that there are more ways and more things in life than settling down and sprogging. You, on the other hand, believe that brainwashing people at a younger age to believe that marriage and kids is all they can do, instead of acknowledging that this expectation is the problem in the first instance.

     

    I can’t imagine being so obsessed with sex that I’d create a special club with entire syllabusses dedicated to avoiding it. I’ve always thought of abstinence-only clubs as a sort of dysfunctional Alcoholics Anonymous, where they follow a twelve-step plan to make the neurosis worse instead of better.

  • arium

    It’s interesting how the message changes, depending on the audience.

     

    Here:

    -Increase the age of sexual debut
    -Reduce the number of sexual partners

    http://www.waittraining.org: Although the title of the main page is "Abstinence Education Curriculum, Teen Relationships, Pregnancy Prevention, Positive Youth Development and Marriage Communication Seminars," somehow these topics have been omitted from the list of WAIT Training Curriculum objectives.

     

    Here:

    -Increase the number of students who are willing to return to a healthy choice even if they have been sexually active

    Curriculum objectives:

    • The value of starting over

    "We also offer:"

    • Sexual Cessation trainings for working with sexually active youth

    (Even Ann Landers recognized the futility in this.)

     

    Curriculum objectives:

    • Marriage preparation education

    Without teaching about contraception? (There is also no mention of contraception in the "marriage education workshop" objectives.)

     

    Finally,

    Waiting until marriage is not a measureable goal and no one in our agency desires to be the sex police to follow a student to marriage.

    Of course this is measurable–studies show that 90 to 95% of the population has sex before marriage. WAIT Training apparently does not want to be held accountable for program ineffectiveness.

     

    ###

     

    With a bit of Googling, interesting tidbits about this Curriculum can be found.

    In a 2007 article in The Nation entitled Opportunities in Abstinence Training, Barbara Ehrenreich described a passage in the curriculum using frozen waffles and spaghetti noodles as an analogy to the differences between the brains of men and women. This essay discusses the source cited (which doesn’t actually mention waffles or spaghetti) and describes how the original research (that was horribly mischaracterized in the Curriculum) was refuted in 1997.

     

    Oddly enough, the Curriculum is no longer available for download from their website.

     

    [edited for formatting]

  • joneen-mackenzie-rn

    For those of you who are studying the WAIT Training web site, I thank you!

    WAIT Training is not just a curriculum. It is also the name of of the agency that houses several curricula and programs. We are the managers of the Colorado Healthy Marriage Project and work with Promoting Responsible Fatherhood. We also have been awarded a very substantial and important CDC-DASH Cooperative Agreement to do a national project. Additionally, we work with several welfare programs to increase adult self sufficiency and youth success. we work in 43 states and have trainers around the world.

    If the readers would do their homework and calm down,they would know we NEVER EVER posted any of our curriculum on the website ergo..we never removed any either.

    Just returned from seeing the movie Blind Side with Sandra Bullock. Inspritational what a family can do for those who never had one!

    Take a breather and think about the kids!

    Respectfully submitted: Joneen Mackenzie RN

  • arium

    From the last link in my previous comment:

    The WAIT training manual in question is here, and the waffles-v.-spaghetti passage is on page 197, under the heading "Make an impact".

    Since the name of the document was trainerupdates.pdf, I apparently misspoke in referring to the document as the Curriculum.

  • grayduck

    "…they are more focused on promoting marriage than preventing anything."

     

    Discouraging adultery and fornication is potentially an effective method of preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections. Lifetime monogamy by both partners dramatically reduces- if not completely eliminates- the chances of contracting a sexually-transmitted infection. Unmarried women are about six times as likely to abort any particular pregnancy as are married women. ("The abortion ratio for unmarried women (485 per 1,000 live births) was 8.4 times that for married women (58 per 1,000).")

     

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5713a1.htm?s_cid=ss5713a1_e

     

    "According to these curricula, everybody wants to and should get married. Choosing the Best SOUL MATE starts by asking students ‘Why do over 80% of teens have a goal of being happily married?’"

     

    Can you support the assertion in your first sentence with examples? Or are you assuming that "80%" means "everybody?"

     

    "Her exposure to gonorrhea proves that she would have been better served by a curriculum that provided her with information on how STDs are transmitted, how they can be prevented, and the need for all partners to get tested. Moreover, both she and her husband would have benefited from skills-based lessons on communications around sexual health."

     

    More information may be better, but if she still married the jerk who became infected by fornicating then she likely would have become infected herself anyway. Any curriculum purporting to be comprehensive needs to discuss the process of deciding who to marry because that sexual and reproductive choice has profound ramifications for students.

     

    "…given that these students are a decade away from the average age of first marriage, it seems silly to focus a lesson on communication solely on marriage."

     

    If being inclusive is an important characteristic of sexuality education, why should a curriculum ignore the needs of students who marry young- especially given if the curriculum is designed to encourage students to keep sex within marriage?

     

    "It never does say exactly why this seemingly reasonable opinion is not."

     

    The answer seems obvious- sexual intercourse can cause pregnancy. Once that happens, the two people must find a way to raise the child together- or apart- in some way.

     

    "…it…even suggests that those who choose to do so have inherent character flaws: ‘Unwed couples living together may have problems making and keeping commitments.’"

     

    Rightly so; they have problems making and keeping commitments to the children that may result from their sexual behavior.

     

    "There is no reason for such discrimination…"

     

    There is, indeed, a reason for such discrimination; only opposite-sex couples can reproduce.

     

    "It is not the place for educational programs to tell these adults that their relationships are inferior any more than it is their place to tell young people that they must marry."

     

    Why not?

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • crowepps

    Personally, I object to the stereotyping and attempts to promote outdated gender roles as ‘normal’ since both are dysfunctional in adult attitudes.  Certainly the idea that men won’t have sex with ugly women or have tender egos that should be coddled, or that women aren’t capable of supporting themselves and are emotionally needy aren’t biological ‘facts’ but rather social rules promoting inequality necessary to sustain patriarchy.

    • According to the curriculum, women need affection while men need sexual fulfillment; women need conversation while men need recreational companionship; women need honesty and openness while men need physical attractiveness; women need financial support while men need admiration, and women need family commitment while men need domestic support. (WAIT Training, p. 199)
    • “Sexually speaking, it has been said that men are like microwaves and women are like crock pots. What does that mean? Generally, men get stimulated more easily than women and women take longer to get stimulated. Men are visual responders and women respond when they feel connected and close to someone.”(WAIT Training p. 62)
    • “While a man needs little or no preparation for sex, a woman often needs hours of emotional and mental preparation,” and “Harsh or abusive treatment can easily remove a woman’s desire for sexual intimacy.”(WAIT Training, p. 199)

    This lesson overtly reinforces a societal double-standard that suggests that men want casual sex from any and all women and that women do not desire sex as much as they feel the overwhelming need to be loved. In so doing the curriculum places all of the responsibility for refusing sexual activity on the shoulders of young women.

    http://www.communityactionkit.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewpage&pageid=993

  • crowepps

    "There is no reason for such discrimination…"

     

    There is, indeed, a reason for such discrimination; only opposite-sex couples can reproduce.

     

    This only makes sense if a required purpose of ‘marriage’ is reproduction.  Insisting that it is would restrict the institution of marriage to those who are fertile and of reproductive age.  No more of those touching senior romances, since they are old to reproduce.

     

    "It is not the place for educational programs to tell these adults that their relationships are inferior any more than it is their place to tell young people that they must marry."

     

    Why not?

     

    Because it is improper in a secular democracy for teachers who are government employees to promote minority religious views as though they are ‘fact’ instead of ‘belief’.

  • ahunt

    Snerk.

     

    women need affection while men need sexual fulfillment

     

    How does this work, exactly? Are men turned on by  cold, unaffectionate women?  Do women get wet just fantasizing about locking limbs with cold, unaffectionate men? I don’t get it.

     

    And I’m pretty sure I’d take a pass on regular unfulfilling sex, no matter how "affectionate" it was.

  • crowepps

    The idea is that men don’t need ‘affection’ but will pretend that they love a girl in order to manipulate her into providing sex, during which she doesn’t need ‘fulfillment’ because ‘good girls’ don’t like to be ‘demeaned’ by sex by only tolerate it to have children.

     

    It’s a great way to promote the various patriarchal stereotypes: girls don’t want sex, girls shouldn’t want affection from men, men aren’t capable of actually, loving women, the goals of men and women are fundamentally in opposition to each other, and that the whole point of ‘marriage’ is for women to sell their availability for sex only to men who have legally guaranteed them financial support — marriage as legal prostitution.

  • ahunt

    Shorter WAIT theory:

     

    Men are lying pigs and women are stupid and spineless?

     

    Ewww.

  • joneen-mackenzie-rn

    Are you saying men and women are exactly alike? There are many studies that showcase the differences between men and women. The WAIT Training curriculum certainly values both genders as equal and would never presume to go backwards as far as the women’s movement is concerned. We are delighted that women make up more than half the work force and are now surpassing men in graduation rates from medical and law schools. We must do more for young women in the US and around the world.
    Many of the gender lessons in WAIT Training will be removed in our upcomming updated material.The lessons on healthy relationship building and future family formation and healthy marriage will remain since this prosocial (not religious) institution needs to be highlighted, reinforced, valued and maintained for healthy outcomes for youth. I have no idea why many who respond to this blog are so hostile towards marriage. Perhaps they have been hurt by an unhealthy relationship and or marriage and remain wounded. That is sad.
    Respectfully submitted, Joneen Mackenzie RN

  • ahunt

    Why is it that whenever objections to gender stereotyping are raised, the automatic and idiotic response is: Are you saying men and women are exactly alike?

     

    Uh no…but there are greater differences withing the genders than between them, and just as it does none of us any good to deny that differences exist, it is far more destructive to grossly exaggerate the differences into a rigid, narrow and yes, insulting understanding of human behaviors.

  • heather-corinna


    A few tips which may clarify things for you, Joneen:

    1) There are more than two genders, and a wide range of gender expressions and identities.You say "both."  There aren’t but two.

    2) There are also more than two biological sexes: XX and XY isn’t the only game in town when it comes to sex, and we have known this for a bare minimum of 100 years now.

    3) Not everyone is heterosexual (and before you tell me about your "gay friends" again, please look at your materials and try and see how when you present sexual interaction as being about men-with-women, or about legal marriage, you slam the door in the face of GLBT youth.).

    4) Not everyone has the legal right to marry. Even for those who have the legal right, there are other issues which make marriage unaccessible to many.

    5) Marriage, even for those who can marry, has not offered everyone the kind of protections or experiences organizations like your promise it will: so yes, perhaps some people who respond that way have been hurt by unhealthy marriages as adults or as children. Marriage, through history and in some states and areas still, doesn’t even afford both parties in it the same legal rights and protections. (Which is also why some of us object to it as an institution, full-stop.) I agree that is sad, especially when said people were convinced by others that marriage would guarantee them a happy, healthy life: given how sad you also feel that is, and how you clearly know that is one reality of marriage, one’d think you might provide some levity with the promises you make about it.

    6) The statements your curricula make about those in single-parent families are slamming the door in the face — and maligning — around half your students.

     

    That said, I’m delighted to hear that WAIT training will be removing binary gender stereotyping from its materials. That’s a really good step, and is excellent news. I look forward to see the revised materials.

  • colleen

    Why is it that whenever objections to gender stereotyping are raised, the automatic and idiotic response is: Are you saying men and women are exactly alike?

     

     Because one of the myths of the far right and particularly the religious right is that feminists, (‘the left’, the enemy) believe men and women are exactly alike. The fact that feminists do not believe this does not appear to influence or even interest them.

    I’ve never found one of them who was up to the task of a more nuanced conversation.

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    Are you saying men and women are exactly alike?

    No, I’m not saying ‘men and women’ are exactly alike. The bell curve of men hitting its height in one place on a particular issue and the bell curve of women hitting its height on that same issue in a different place is not the problem.

     

    The problem is, your training insists that men and men are exactly alike and women and women are exactly alike and that the ‘rules’ for personal behavior you encourage should treat them as interchangeable units who can all be treated identically because there are predetermined definitions of how each of them should act and think ‘correctly’. Any training that does not recognize outliers is a disservice to the students, since it labels any students who aren’t packed tightly into the height of the bell curve as ‘abnormal’ instead of recognizing that they are part of the expected distribution who should be recognized and whose different needs should be addressed.

     

    I am aware that in response to attempts to defund ‘abstinence only training’ that the companies distributing it are rewriting their curriculums in an attempt to hold onto their contracts and keep making money. The problem is that companies whose previous standards seem to have been motivated by efforts to use public education to win the culture/religious war and who used discredited and/or outdated studies and/or bare ideological statements to justify their curriculum are not incorporating more science but instead basing their revisions on advertising techniques.

     

    "This particular statement about women’s roles doesn’t ‘sell well’ so we’ll remove it; this statement implies the same thing but is less offensive to the average parent so let’s leave it in."

     

    Certainly dropping the religious justification and relabeling the promotion of marriage as "prosocial" doesn’t have any scientific support that I know of so that’s exactly the kind of entirely unsupported ‘bare ideological statement’ to which I was referring above.

     

    There are places internationally where curriculum are available that have proven themselves over time, and there isn’t anything ‘unique’ about humanity in the United States that would bar those curriculum from being adapted to work here.

    The message seems to work: The rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease in Sweden are among the world’s lowest. Sweden’s teenage birthrate is 7 per 1,000 births, compared with 49 in the United States. Among 15-to-19-year-olds, reported cases of gonorrhea in the United States are nearly 600 times as great on a per capita basis.

     

    American critics of sex education fear that teaching children about sex and contraception encourages promiscuity. But the percentage of girls having sex before age 15 is 12 percent in Sweden and 14 percent in the States.

    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070318/26sex.html

  • anonymous99

    Heather makes some outstanding points here, but I would just like to echo her remarks under point 5.  There is so much wisdom packed in these few sentences that every young person in America should consider them.                 Joneen, I urge you to consider what Heather is bringing to your attention here.  In one of your earlier posts you stated that you don’t follow your students into adulthood/marriage to see how they’re doing.  Perhaps you should.  You’d find a whole lot of broken people.          "Which is also why some of us object to it as an institution, full-stop."  Yes!  I feel so alone on this most of the time.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts Heather.  I’m depressed most of the time.  I feel better right now.

  • heather-corinna

    Exactly.

     

    As well, a response to sound critique of gender sterotyping of "Are you saying men and women are exactly alike?" is one we’ve all heard again and again (and know as the pat non-answer it is), and I’m not sure why it’s not clear to presumably educated people it is not a satisfactory response, nor is "there have been studies to show differences." Yes, there have been…and also studies to demonstrate and investigate similarities. Neither group of study has proven XX and XY’s are either radically different or exactly alike, nor that differences and similiarities that exist in all sexes and all genders are based in biology alone.  It’s often apparent many people who posit it is don’t believe it either, even if they state it to be so, because such intense attempts to send strong messages of binary gender roles tend to look a whole lot like an attempt to enable social conditioning to cement those stereotypes and roles.

     

    That response also purposefully avoids what the criticisms are: that a) binary gender sterotypes do not hold true for many, if not most, individuals, b) what is often presented as behaviour due to biology, not some combination of biology and soclialization doesn’t hold up to all study of sex and gender as a whole, and again c) not only are sex and gender understood as different by both the fields of medicine and social science, both those fields also make clear that there are more than two sexes and more than two genders.

     

    Here’s the funny part: gender stereotyping, and the kinds of comments about gender we see in curricula like this is where we see sex and gender presented in a homogenous way.  While you are saying men are X way, and women are Y way, what you’re also often positing, beyond rendering those who are not XX, XY or cisgender invisible, is that ALL women are the same, as are all men.

    Homogeneity is far more omnipresent in curricula like these than it is in comprehensive approaches.