I SUSPECT that somewhere in the depths of the Reagan administration, down in the basement where High Strategy is made concerning social issues like sex education for teen-agers, there toils old man Goros, the teacher who told my seventh-grade class that sex -- awful, gross sex -- could, like an evil spirit, be warded off by clean living, lots of pushups and fresh air. He made sexual desire sound like a vitamin deficiency.
It is his spirit that infuses the Reagan administration. On every level, when it comes to sex, particularly teen-agers and sex, the administration is dead set against it. If it could, it would outlaw sex for teen-agers, but since it cannot do that, it will do what men (and some women) throughout the ages have traditionally done when faced with the problem of human sexuality -- keep the women barefoot, happy and pregnant.
And pregnant they are. The latest dismal news is that four out of every 10 girls will become pregnant at least one time in their teen-age years, two out of 10 will give birth and one in seven will have an abortion. Of a total teen-age population of 29 million, about 12 million have had sexual intercourse -- 7 million boys and 5 million girls.
For this epidemic of teen-age pregnancies, for a situation that puts an enormous burden on the welfare system (teen-age mothers invariably wind up on that dole), the Reagan administration has prescribed ignorance. It has proposed an end to federal aid for sex education, no contraception for teen-agers through Medicaid, and, of course, no abortion. It would like, in the words of Health and Human Services Secretary Richard Schweiker, to take "the sex education business' out of the hands of the federal government and return it to the family where it has, as the statistics just cited prove, been treated with warmth, frankness and honesty.
The truth of the matter, of course, is that se eduction is not just another controversial course that gets taught in some schools and not in others. It is a code term for, among other things, acknowledging female sexuality. The way some people would like to deal with it is by ignoring it, by not acknowledging it, by pretending that if nothing is said about it, it will go away and not come back wntil the state and the minister and, God willing, the caterer, approve.
After all, the failure to teach about sex doesn't make victims out of men, but of women. They are the ones who have to have an abortion or have the baby. They are the ones who need to know about contraception. Us guys can be rather cavalier about the whole thing and, judging from what is happening, us guys are.
This is nothing new. The sexual revolution, whatever that may be, is not a revolution that changed the attitude of young men toward sex. It is women who, for whatever reason, have changed their attitude. The reason may be as simple as the pill or it may be as complex as everything that goes into comtemporary life -- television, emulation of movie stars, availability of abortion, etc.
The upshot is an administration policy that discriminates against women. It is women, after all, who pay the consequences for the sexual ignorance of both men and women. The administration, of course, would deny that it is discriminating against woemn. On the highest of horses it would say nonsense and balderdash (a word used by conservative Republicans). But it has linked itself to closely with the Moral Majority and its "bad girl" - "good girl" view of the world to make any rebuttal credible.
In this sense, what the Reagan administration is doing about sex education and abortion and contraception is the same as the little lecture as Mr. Goros gave us all. He took us aside and said, fight it, boys -- fight the urge. He told us to do pushups and run in place and take deep breaths. He told us that, and as bad as it was, as much garbage as it was even then, it was better than what the school told the girls.
It told them nothing.