US funds false sex lessons

By Gary Younge

The Bush administration is funding sexual health projects which teach children that HIV can be contracted through sweat and tears, touching genitals can result in pregnancy and a 43-day-old foetus is a thinking person.

A survey by the staff of Californian congressman Henry Waxman examined 13 of 100 "abstinence-only programmes" in 25 states, involving several million children aged from nine to 18. The programmes are funded by the federal government to the tune of $170m, twice the amount when George Bush came to power.

The survey found what it called a litany of "false, misleading and distorted information". Other assertions presented as facts were: abortion can lead to sterility and suicide; half the gay male teenagers in the US have tested positive for HIV; and condoms fail to prevent transmission of HIV in 31% of heterosexual intercourse.

Mr Waxman also criticised some programmes for reinforcing sexist stereotypes. One says: "Women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments." Another programme says: "Just as a woman needs to feel a man’s devotion to her, a man has a primary need to feel a woman’s admiration. To admire a man is to regard him with wonder, delight and approval. A man feels admired when his unique characteristics and talents happily amaze her."

From The Guardian Weekly December 10, 2004


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