Ex-Surgeons General Join to Fight STDs
November 2, 2006
Today in San Francisco, two former surgeons general of the United States will meet with local sexuality teachers and researchers to discuss how to end the nation's abstinence-only curriculum and fight rising STD rates.
Young people "have problems with sexuality," said Dr. David Satcher, who served as surgeon general until 2002. "We have a responsibility to make sure they have the information they need." Dr. Jocelyn Elders, who served as surgeon general in the Clinton administration, will also take part.
California is one of a small number of states that reject federal funding for abstinence-based sex education, which teaches that sex is never appropriate until marriage and there is no 100 percent effective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs. Opponents say the curriculum deprives youths of the information they need to avoid pregnancy and protect their sexual health. They note that half of all US pregnancies are unplanned and say STD rates are climbing because youths are not protecting themselves.
Elders, who was forced from office in 1994 after suggesting that masturbation be taught as part of sex education, said part of the problem "is our country: We just don't like to talk about sex. Our silence has really been deafening, and the people who suffer the most are our young."
Abstinence-only supporters say the programs, which have been the national standard for five years, are working, and they point to declining teen pregnancy rates and abortions as evidence.
San Francisco Chronicle
11.02.2006; Erin Allday