Sunday, February 6, 2011

Abstinence Sex Education Scholarship: West Virginia Weekend

Abstinence sexual education is again being debated.  

Bristol Palin's planned appearance at the University of Washington in St. Louis on February 7  "to speak on abstinence as part of Washington University’s student Sexual Responsibility Week" has been canceled because "of the growing controversy among undergraduates over the decision to pay for her talk with student-generated funds."  Moreover, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) successfully added an amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (eventually signed into law by the president) that restored a $50 million annual federal outlay to states (through 2014) for abstinence sex education.  The provisions appear at sections 2953 et seq., entitled "Personal responsibility education." 

WV Weekend Logo John E. Taylor's lively and readable work, Family Values, Courts, and Culture War: The Case of Abstinence-Only Sex Education, 18 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 1053 (2010), seeks to chart a middle course between what he terms the "sexual right" and the "sexual left."  Taylor situates his analysis in the Establishment Clause, even as he rejects the formulation that the sex education debate is a clash between science and (religious) values.   His intriguing thought experiment involves dental education and requires readers to examine our own flossing habits!

In the article, Taylor, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the West Virginia University College of Law, then turns to three further claims, noting that “the value-laden character of sex education generates interesting conclusions about the proper roles of the federal government, the courts, and the public schools in sex education policy.” Id. at 1095.  First, Taylor claims that the federal government “should not attempt to dictate how state and local governments approach sex education.” Id. at 1056.  Second, Taylor argues that “courts should be reluctant to use the Establishment Clause to settle sex education controversies."  Id.  Finally, Taylor draws a broader conclusion that “we should recognize some limits on the degree to which the public schools can be enlisted as soldiers in the culture wars.” Id.

In the end, Taylor

cast[s] doubt on whether the federal government or the courts have useful roles to play in resolving cultural struggles about sex education. . . . These government institutions should allow space for the value conflicts at stake in sex education to work themselves out in a decentralized fashion. The core of truth in constitutional critiques of abstinence only-until-marriage sex education is the recognition that it involves the use of the public schools to promote a highly contested set of cultural norms.  Legislators and school officials have duties to refrain from using the public schools as tools in the cultural struggle between red and blue family values. In practical terms, they should seek to forge policies that appeal to the “sexual middle” by stressing abstinence for school-age children while also providing basic information about contraception. These obligations have roots in constitutional values, but do not give rise to judicially enforceable constitutional rights.

Id. at 1095.

Despite Taylor's plea for the "sexual middle" to prevail, it seems likely that the value conflicts will continue and litigation will have a constitutional cast.

RR

with J. Zak Ritchie

 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/conlaw/2011/02/abstinence-sex-education-scholarship-west-virginia-weekend.html

Establishment Clause, Family, Federalism, First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Fundamental Rights, Religion, Reproductive Rights, Scholarship, Sexuality | Permalink

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Comments

It’s good to hear that this has this scholarship about this sex education. We should implement sex education among students all over the world. It is very important to educate them about this so that they will not be left by the generation. I would have to inform our administrator about this, so that our school will build this kind of scholarship as well.

Posted by: kamasutra hindi | Feb 9, 2011 7:01:32 AM

It took many year to get where we are and republicans lead the way, but now we are back tracking to make an effort to save our country from people like the governors of Maine and Texas simply because Republicans ideas are so self serving, case in point, it took 40 years and, 4 billion dollars to kill/murder 4 people in California using the death penalty. Laws concerning sex are the same in that the cost comes from you and me too effect a 14 trillion dollar defecate for self serving minds that make far to much out of self and sex. Now if you don't think these laws are expensive whats AT&T say, rethink is possible, please check the numbers for your selves and who is responsible. You will find I tell the truth. These laws are self serving over others when one person puts them self over others at the expense to all, and in the case of Troy Davis the lights have gone out far too many times in Georgia and Texas at a nations expense of credibility. When the rate of re-offense for sex offenders is less than 3.5% and they would like to believe their lies saying sex offenders can not change, when will people wake to the truth? When sex offender recidivism rates in actuality are less than 3.5% and over 95% of all new sex crimes are committed by someone not on the sex offender registry who in our community is being served? the real answer is only the self-serving one looking for revenge at the expense of others which coincides with the death penalty because the individual that is exacting the revenge finds no true peace in the death of another because they continue to live the horror but that peace comes with death to the one put to death because of the commandment tho shall not kill, and Intel people can see the parables in the bible as what they are like an eye for an eye they will never know peace.

Posted by: Keith R Radford Jr | Sep 24, 2011 10:52:33 AM

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