The latest Gallup Poll on sex education and birth control, commissioned by the Planned Parenthood Federation (PPF) of Canada, has ascertained that 94 per cent of Canadian adults (1,000 were interviewed) believe parents should discuss sex and sexual behaviour with their children. Also, 83 per cent believe sex education should be taught in schools (just under half of this group want classes beginning in Grades 1 to 4, and just over half want them started later.) It also appears that 90 per cent believe that all Canadians should have the right to use birth control.
A related PPF survey of school programmes shows that 50 per cent of Canada’s schools provide some sort of sex education; and 25 per cent of those schools combine sex education with home economics, religion, family studies, physical education or science.
These statistics are grist for the mills of such as David Moores, president of PPF. He blames inadequate school programmes on boards of education; presumably they’re too wishy-washy to hire Planned Parenthood representatives to teach the right stuff in every school. He also blames “the vocal minority … working to limit sex education.” (You knew that quote would appear somewhere.)
Predictably, Lynda Hurst, the Toronto Star’s feminist columnist jumped onto the same bandwagon. Ms. Hurst looked at the figures and confidently asserted that 93 per cent of Canadians want mandatory sex education in their schools. Of course, she could have been in a hurry to get her column written and so misread these percentages, but it’s a long leap to interpret a “belief” that sex education should be taught in the schools into a “mandatory” programme for all. Those of us who are skeptical as to the content and intent of PPF programmers become “that especially vocal wing of Canada’s moral minority,” to Ms. Hurst. It becomes more and more apparent that those who defend the “pro-choice” position do not uphold the parents’ choice to guide the most important aspect of a child’s education.
To return to the first statistic: I am, frankly, surprised that only 93 per cent think parents should explain sexuality to their children. As parents it is our duty and right to do so and, while it is often not an easy task, I cannot believe that the majority of parents want this responsibility put into other hands. Perhaps the 7 per cent who appear to disagree reflects those who are not parents, or those who deliberately answer any polled question so as to mess it up (they have my sympathy), or those who do not care one way or the other. As neither Gallup nor PPF have released the wording of the question, it’s difficult to understand the reasoning of the 7 per cent.
This point is crucial when considering the 83 per cent response approving sex education in the schools. What was the question? We know from previous Gallup polls, abortion polls in particular, that questions can be formed in such a way as to obtain the desired, approving, answer. Was this question phrased in such a way as to make a “no” answer very unlikely?
I’d be willing to bet that the “majority approving” sex education in the schools assumes that the school programmes will reflect its own moral and cultural values. As far as I know, such a programme does not exist. A correctly-orientated programme, teaching the morality inherent in a sexual relationship, is one thing; a PPF-designed programme, carefully fuzzing up (or entirely ignoring) moral values, is quite another.
Based on myths
It is dangerous to assume that many know what PPF is up to. Its public relations people know what they are doing, and the PPF’s advertising consistently promotes the organization as moderate. The PPF approach, briefly, is to take morality out of sex. It assumes that the majority of teens will be sexually-active from an early age; a resultant (normal) pregnancy becomes, in their ethos, just another sexually-transmitted disease – it’s a nuisance, and abortion is the cure.
The problem with this entire poll is that it is based on myths. It is based on the myth that sex education in schools will reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy. It is based on the myth that parents are too embarrassed, too ignorant, or too lazy, to teach their children that sexuality is a gift from God, to be cherished and guarded as part of our human nature. It assumes there are no longer moral or religious principles, which guide us as a society. The people are assumed to have no principles, therefore a carefully-worded poll can deliver a knee-jerk response. We are assumed to want or to need guidance (from the PPF priesthood of our pluralistic society). Those of us who protest are labelled a vocal minority (every poll has its vocal minority).
The reason that a question on birth control was inserted into a sex education poll is obvious- especially when the poll was commissioned by PPF. It is another myth, promoted endlessly by PPF, that those against sex education are also against birth control. Some of us are, some of us are not.
Indeed we have Ms. Hurst
In this mythology, protests against sex education in the schools and artificial birth control are equated with approval of ignorance and of forcing young women to bear children before their time. Such logic is nonsense, of course, and – at the very least – shows a complete misunderstanding as to the reasons for teenage pregnancy.
Naturally, any adult has the right to use birth control if he or she wishes. However, any right brings with it a responsibility. The key word here is “adult.” Does a 12- or 13- year old girl have the maturity to understand what birth control is? Do those promoting artificial birth control (not only to teens) bother to explain the complex physiology of fertility? Do they warn of the hazards, which go hand in hand with the Pill or the IUD? Is not the morality – or the immorality – of birth control ignored, because an unborn child is seen as a disease, an unwanted side effect to the necessity of providing complete sexual freedom?
Lynda Hurst states, “Planned Parenthood will once again take in stride whatever obnoxious criticism comes it’s way, others of us have finally had enough,” Indeed we have, Ms, Hurst.
The pressure is on us to monitor carefully our school programmes. If a sex education course forms part of a “family-life education” programme, that implies sexuality will be seen as part of marriage. If it is part of a religious course, that implies sexuality if being taught with careful attention to the teachings of that religion. Our children need our vigilance, and so do those children yet unborn. If we close our eyes to this renewed threat to our beliefs, we will deserve all we get … won’t we?