Wrong Approaches to Sex Ed

Monday, April 23, 2007

Your sensible April 18 editorial "Let's Talk About Sex" included a pointless reference:

"Maybe this report will be a bridge between the two extremes of the sex-education debate: the unrealistic no-sex-until-you're-married-crowd and the untenable it's-okay-as-long-as-you-use-contraception gang."

Many groups fall into the former camp, but I am unaware of any in the latter. Certainly many people, and maybe even groups, believe that sex between unmarried consenting adults is "okay," but I have never seen or heard of any organization whose stand is that sex involving unmarried teens or pre-teens is "okay."

The editorial's incorrect characterization did a disservice to readers and misrepresented the views of those who advocate contraceptive-condom education in sex education curricula. Unless you have a specific group in mind, it's neither good journalism nor good public discourse to invent an extremist position just to be "balanced."

JEFFREY P. RUSSELL

Silver Spring

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How many studies will it take to convince the Bush administration that abstinence-only programs are not only misguided but potentially damaging to young people's health? These programs are directed not just toward young people here in the United States. Our government is exporting them to hundreds of millions of young people in low-income countries that receive U.S. foreign assistance -- young people who are at grave risk of HIV-AIDS and unintended pregnancy.

The evidence is clear: Abstinence-only programs do nothing to stop premarital sex or to arm teens with the information they need to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. If we really want to protect the world's young people, we must equip them with the information and tools they need to make informed, healthy decisions about sexuality.

BETH FREDRICK

Executive Vice President

International Women's Health Coalition

New York


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