Sex Ed: Hazardous to Your Child’s Health?
The primary goal of sex education is not eradication of disease, it's social change.


Is sex-ed hazardous to your child’s health? The industry line is, argues Dr. Miriam Grossman, a psychiatrist who has worked on college campuses and seen too much pain and illness that the sexual revolution has wrought. She’s the author of the new book You’re Teaching My Child What?: A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Ed and How They Harm Your Child, and took questions earlier this week from National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Dr. Grossman, you tell a story at the start of the book about a talk you gave on a college campus. During the course of Q&A one girl announces: “I always used condoms, but I got HPV anyway, and it’s one of the high-risk types.” You explain that based on what she then provided, she was in a bad way, even facing a potential cancer risk if her infection persists. But she also announced that having “thought it over” she had “decided that the pleasure I had with my partners was worth it.” What makes a college kid say that? No concept of mortality? How do you even begin to fix this?

DR. MIRIAM GROSSMAN: Well, those are some of the big questions that I tackle in my book. Let me try to sum up 200 pages for you.

People need to understand that the primary goal of sex education is not eradication of disease, it’s social change. Groups like Planned Parenthood and SIECUS inculcate students to value openness and acceptance of nearly any consensual sexual encounter. A visit to some of the websites to which kids are sent by these organizations demonstrates that their fight is against repression and intolerance, not herpes and warts. The latter are bothersome but manageable; the former are unacceptable and must be eliminated.

Now consider a young person like the student you mention. We didn’t speak privately, but I think it’s fair to speculate about her “it was worth it” comment.

If she’s like other young people I’ve met, she’s been taught she’s a “sexual being,” from cradle to grave. Decisions about sex — when, what, and with whom — are for her to make and for others (read: adults) to respect. She’s misinformed about genital infections: She believes that all sexual activity — with a stranger or a spouse, at age 15 or 25 — carries some risk of infection. The only way to avoid the blisters, warts, and discharges, she thinks, is to abstain from sex forever.

At her freshman orientation, she learned where to obtain emergency contraception and free condoms. At the student health center she’s asked, “Do you have sex with men, women, or both?” She wants a social life, but dating is dead. There’s lots of alcohol on campus, and hook-ups are the norm. More than a few friends have been treated for genital infections.

She does not understand that sexuality is an appetite, a healthy and wonderful one, but like all appetites, only if restrained. That’s a moral message, she thinks, not a medical one. And it’s someone else’s morality.

You and I are astonished at her statement that it was “worth it,” because our priority is avoiding infection, especially viruses that may cause serious medical conditions. And we know that two people who delay sexual behavior and are monogamous never have to worry about any sexually transmitted infection. But she lives in a different world, where sexual freedom and exploration are the priority, and HPV is, more often than not, part of the package.

LOPEZ: How does biology and not just the pope and dad with a shotgun say “wait” on the matter of sex?

DR. GROSSMAN: Biology says “wait” in a number of ways. Here are two, both of them ignored by the sex-ed industry:

We learned in the mid-Nineties that the teen brain is immature, and functions differently from an adult’s. The pioneer researcher in this field is Jay Giedd, M.D., who is chief of brain imaging in child psychiatry at the NIMH. Giedd has done MRIs on over 1,800 kids; his work revealed that the brain does not reach full maturity until the third decade of life. The last area to develop is the pre-frontal cortex, or PFC, which is the brain’s center for reasoning, judgment, self evaluation, and planning. The PFC suppresses impulses and makes decisions rationally, weighing pros and cons, and considering the consequences. It’s the “thinking” brain, and in adolescents, the wiring isn’t complete.