One of the illusions about comprehensive sex education is that it is, well, a comprehensive treatment of the science of human sexuality. Dr. Miriam Grossman, who has upfront and personal knowledge of the psychological and physiological challenges of sexually involved collegians from her years as a campus psychiatrist at UCLA, does more than beg to differ with the reigning orthodoxy. She shows the difference between good science and contemporary sex education in her new book You’re Teaching My Children What? She’ll summarize her conclusions at a Heritage Foundation lecture today at noon.
Grossman’s experience with the inexperience, in terms of actual medical understanding, of “experienced” college coeds prompted her to delve into the web sites of the leading comprehensive sex educators, from Planned Parenthood and SIECUS (the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States) to Advocates for Youth and Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice. What she did not find there is as interesting as what she found. Instead of accurate treatment of such issues as condom effectiveness and the high health risk of particular sexual practices, the sites are replete with exhortations to adolescents to ‘explore” their sexuality – ideology rather than information.
Perhaps most compelling is the disparate impact Dr. Grossman documents for girls and women from today’s “hook-up” culture. The topics range from the heightened cellular-level susceptibility of adolescent girls and younger women to sexually transmitted infections and diseases, to the biochemical ingenuity of the expanded range of viruses and bacteria today’s supercharged Petri Dishes of behavior have nurtured, to the rapidly bending fertility curve that many 20-somethings have been schooled to believe does not exist. Grossman does not shy away from either the medical realities or the moral implications, but her primary message is to the sexual messengers: tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
It’s a message that young people, the subjects of a massive national experiment in sexual liberation, urgently need to hear. Even more, it’s a messageSe that the cultural mangers of that experiment need to heed.