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Get Real About Sex Education

It's not often that reality affects how sex is taught in public schools in this country.  But the recent decision by a Fresno County Superior Court judge in California is heartening (" 'Historic' Ruling That Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Isn't Sex Ed," thinkprogress.org, May 13).

By ruling that an abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum violates a 2003 state law requiring medically accurate information, Judge Donald Black deserves high praise. The truth is that young people today are physically maturing earlier than ever and are exposed to images and information that prior generations never were.  Yes, total abstinence will prevent sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies, but so will locking young people in a basement.  

Other countries are not nearly as prudish as we are.  They recognize that sex is as much a part of living as eating and breathing.  If we genuinely want to protect our children, the best way to do so is to provide them with medically correct information at a time in their lives when they need it the most (" 'Freedom of Speech,' " The New York Times, May 5). Ideally, parents would be the ones to do so, but they often feel uncomfortable ("Renew the U.S. commitment to sex education," The Washington Post, May 22).

Although the ruling applies only to the Clovis Unified School District in California, it has far-reaching implications for other states, where students receive information focusing only on abstinence. However, it's ironic that just last month Congress appropriated $25 million in additional funding for the same kind of abstinence-only education that Black struck down.

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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