Today, Christian parents have good reason to be concerned about what their children are taught in sex education classes in the public school system. There are countless stories of students receiving information very much in conflict with a biblical perspective. So what can we learn from American history? In The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy (1995), Thomas Sowell reveals interesting data concerning sex education in the second half of the twentieth century.
In 1966, the Office of Economic Opportunity increased its funding of sex education more than five-fold. By the late 1960s, the federal government began to mandate that states promote sex education programs. The National Education Association pushed for more sex education in the curriculum of early grades. Apparently, this was necessary in order to prepare students for their high school years. The Education Digest stated, “contraception education and counseling is now urgently needed to help prevent pregnancy and illegitimacy in high school girls.” Another issue educators focused on in the late 1960s was venereal disease.
But what did statistics reveal about high school pregnancies and venereal disease? From the 1950s to the late 1960s, fertility rates among teenage girls declined as did the rate of infection for gonorrhea and syphilis. In other words, the crisis claimed by those in favor of more sex education did not exist. Things had been improving in the period before the major drive for expanded sex education programs. Those who opposed the claims of sex educators argued that more intensive sex education would cause an increase in sexual activity.
Advocates for more sex education ignored such opposition. The education editor of the New York Times declared: “To fear that sex education will become synonymous with greater sexual permissiveness is to misunderstand that fundamental purpose of the entire enterprise.” Educators believed they knew better than parents. One “expert” stated that “sex and sexuality have become far too complex and technical to leave to the typical parent, who is either uninformed or too bashful to share useful sexual information with his child.” Thus, in the 1970s sex education programs expanded throughout the public school system.
Were the sex educators right? From 1970 to 1984, birth rates of unmarried girls aged 15 to 17 increased 29 percent (a huge rise in abortions prevented a much larger birth rate increase). In 1978, one proponent of greater sex education admitted that venereal disease “skyrocketed 350% in the last fifteen years.” This data had little effect.
Many proponents of sex education had another agenda: to encourage “healthy attitudes about sex and sexuality.” More to the point, they sought to change students’ attitudes more in line with liberal thinking. Sex education presented “an exciting opportunity to develop new norms.”
Only in the light of this agenda does it make sense that so-called ‘sex education’ should be advocated to take place throughout the school years – from kindergarten to college – when it could not possibly take that much time to teach basic biological or medical information about sex. What takes that long is a constant indoctrination in new attitudes.
Unknown to most parents, there were popular instructional programs for junior high school students which showed explicit homosexual sex acts. Concerned parents who learned of such programs protested, but educators ignored these “fundamentalists” and “right-wing extremists.”
The record of sex education as presented by liberals is not promising. The rate of high school pregnancies and venereal disease did not decrease. The development of “new norms” has been troubling for Bible-believing Christians. Still, “expert” educators were certain that they knew better than parents.