The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

How do we protect the kids from those who “protect” the kids?

Gov. Rick DeSantis signing legislation to doom children to ignorance and exploitation.

The Atlantic has an article that most people really need to read. “Republicans Have Sex Ed All Wrong” by Olga Khazan ought to be read by panicky parents.

I agree with Khazan and it corresponds with everything I learned about sexuality from the courses I took as well as the reading I did. My view is shunning sex information is highly detrimental. It creates sexual problems where none existed and it doesn’t “protect the children.”

One of the points I made in a televised debate on censorship in South Africa was individuals who had trouble behaving properly in terms of sexuality — people who harm others — had less exposure to erotica and sexual information than average and were far more obsessed with it being evil.

One of the major newspapers reported on the debate and how it caused nightmares for the puritan pushing censorship. “Peron didn’t mince words… he said, child molesters and their ilk were more likely to be drawn from the ranks of people who were morally rigid and authoritarian in their outlook than anywhere else.” (See note.)

Sexual Puritanism, like the war on drugs or Prohibition, is a sledgehammer that does more harm than good. It doesn’t reduce problems, it exacerbates them. If you want evidence just look at two bastions of anti-sexual hysteria — the Catholic priesthood and evangelicalism, both of which are scandal-ridden cesspools.

Khazan ties the known facts of the psychology of sex to the hysteria that is found in what is now perceived as conservative circles. Christina Pushaw, a spokesperson for the very authoritarian Ron DeSantis publicly claimed that anyone who opposes the sexual hysteria of God’s Own Party are doing so because they “are probably a groomer,” a new term used by the GOP to say child molestation.

But contrary to the sexual authoritarians information about sexuality doesn’t lead children into molestation but it gives them the information to shun it and report it. Khazan writes:

Compared with abstinence-only sex education or no sex education at all, comprehensive sex ed helps reduce teen pregnancy rates. One meta-analysis found that European countries, many of which offer comprehensive, mandatory sex ed, including for young children, tend to have the lowest rates of child sexual abuse in the world. Sex education is “the exact opposite” of grooming, says Nora Gelperin, the director of sexuality education at Advocates for Youth, a sex-ed nonprofit. “Sex education, even when started in the earliest grades, has shown to be protective for kids, especially around child sexual abuse.”

In European countries, where sexual knowledge is far less taboo, teen pregnancy is lower as are VD rates. This same pattern remains true in the United States. States dominated by evangelical cults have higher teen pregnancy rates, and more VD while the most secular states are well below average in both categories. . The conservative, Christian World magazine reported:

Statistically, evangelical teens tend to have sex first at a younger age, 16.3, compared to liberal Protestants, who tend to lose their virginity at 16.7. And young evangelicals are far more likely to have had three or more sexual partners (13.7 percent) than non-evangelicals (8.9 percent).

Joseph and Jillian Strayhorn, in Religiosity and teen birth rate in the United States, wrote:

Studies have suggested that religiosity is associated with behaviors that could lead to a higher teen birth rate. Studer and Thornton found that among 18 year-olds, religious teenagers were less likely to use medical methods of contraception when sexually active. Dodge and colleagues compared male college students in the United States and the Netherlands. American men reported higher rates of inadequate contraception and unwanted pregnancy than their Dutch counterparts; religiosity and sex education were thought to explain these differences.

The reality is the Republican agenda makes sexual exploitation of children more likely; it increases the likelihood of teen pregnancy as well as the numbers of teens with STD’s. They aren’t helping kids; they are trying to make sure they have as many negative experiences regarding sexuality as possible. They are convinced sex is inherently sinful and those who sin should suffer and their policies are meant to assure suffering takes place — as they believe God intended. We can tell them that how they wish to treat LGBT kids will only increase their suffering and make them more likely to commit suicide and it goes nowhere — not when they think being gay or trans is sinful and when they preach “the wages of sin is death.”

In a debate I had on radio with the Vice President of the Moral Majority, Greg Dixon, I brought alone an audio recording of him lamenting to his congregation that they couldn’t get society “to put these homosexuals to death but God’s word would uphold that. They which commit such things are worthy of death. Across the country evangelicals applauded AIDS as God’s punishment for the “sin” of being gay. To the evangelical sex is sin and sin comes with God-given punishment causing the sinner to suffer. If the kids suffer because they are gay or transgender, for too many evangelicals, the kids brought it on themselves and they aren’t shy in saying so.

The real dilemma today is how do we protect the children from Republican authoritarians.

Note: If all goes well we will have this televised debate available in either DVD or Mp4 format. It has to be converted from VHS as well as from PAL format to NTSC. It was recorded and televised a bit over 20 years ago.

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A blog for the Moorfield Storey Institute: a liberaltarian think tank.

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James Peron

James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.

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