What’s the difference?

Due to the diverse (and political) media coverage of sex ed in our schools, it is easy to be confused about who actually teaches what. For instance, proponents of so-called “comprehensive” sex ed tout it as medically-accurate, as if it were the only medically-accurate education out there. In reality, both programs teaching contraception and those teaching abstinence until marriage include helpful, medically-accurate information on teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

So what’s the difference? The difference lies in each program’s core beliefs about teenagers and sexuality. Programs claiming to be comprehensive do so because they discuss contraception in depth in addition to mentioning the “option” to abstain. Their core belief, however, is that being sexually active is a part of growing up. Programs teaching abstinence until marriage discuss the broader scope of sexuality and give information about how sex affects a person mentally as well as physically, also providing character education to help students do the safest thing: wait until marriage.

Here are some examples of the differences:

  • From Be Proud! Be Responsible!: “Once you and a partner agree to use condoms, do something positive and fun. Go to the store together. Buy lots of different brands and colors. Plan a special day when you can experiment. Just talking about how you’ll use all of those condoms can be a turn on.” “Showering together is a green light (no risk) activity.”
  • Wait 4 Your Mate: “Imagine this: you know that remaining abstinent is the best choice for you, but when you make out with your boyfriend or girlfriend, it gets hard to remember that. What do you do? Avoid places where you are alone together for long periods of time; plan out your dates, so you aren’t left bored with lots of time on your hands; discuss physical boundaries that will make it easier for you both to reach your goal of remaining abstinent; surround yourself with reminders of why you want to wait (to graduate high school, to have a healthy marriage, to live without risk of STDs or pregnancy, to avoid drama, to be proud of yourself).”

Which option is truly going to lead a teen down a healthy path to a successful life and fulfilling relationships?