Monday, May 08, 2006

Sex-Ed Saga Continues

So, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has scheduled a panel discussion re: abstinence-until-marriage sex education programs. The panel was to be a standard academic discussion. Panelists submitted proposals, which were peer-reviewed and met the intellectual standards in the various fields.

But no... that process had too much integrity, apparently. Rep. Mark Souder was disturbed by bias he perceived in the original panel, which had fairly overwhelmingly concluded that (brace yourself) abstinence-only education doesn't work. He concluded, with a flair for the peculiar conclusion, that there was "an obvious anti-abstinence objective" on the part of the panel. I might have called it a bias toward facts that might be proven, but that's just me I guess.

The panel is scheduled to meet tomorrow. Last week (last WEEK!) two panelists were removed (one was a student, for whom this could have been a career-creating meeting) and two others were added. The title/focus of the panel was changed, and two new presenters were added to the roster: Dr. Patricia Sulak, an ob-gyn and director of Worth the Wait (is it just me, or is that an hilarious name for an abstinence-only education group?) and Dr. Eric Walsh, who as far as I can tell is just a doctor in California. Peer-review of their presentation materials was not included in the deal, but that's probably because they haven't written anything. (I'm not kidding. NOTHING.) The other presenters have to pay their own way to get to the conference, but not these two. Their travel expenses are being paid by HHS.

The title of the program is now Public Health Strategies of Abstinence Programs for Youth. The original title was Are Abstinence-Only Until Marriage Programs a Threat to Public Health?

Last year a similar thing happened in mental health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration required a suicide prevention conference to remove the words "gay, lesbian, and bisexual" from its program and further required that a session on faith-based suicide prevention be added. The rationale then and now was that federal tax dollars should not be used to fund programs that disagree with administration policies. Well, a few of those tax dollars are mine, and what I want them to go toward would be programs that can be demonstrated to be effective -whether or not those programs are the darlings of the current (any current) administration. But freedom of inquiry and investigation are too much to ask these days, apparently.

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