Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is one of many Republican politicians swept into office last year promising to focus on job creation. Many of those Republicans, Walker included, have instead relentlessly pushed a conservative social agenda and policies that destroy jobs.
After months of union-busting and eliminating public sector jobs, Walker is now focused on his latest “jobs” idea: forcing public schools to teach abstinence-only sex education, Mother Jones reports:
[W]alker and the GOP-led Legislature have a plan: First, they curtailed collective-bargaining rights and threatened to lay off government workers, including teachers, cops, and firefighters. Then Walker called a special jobs-focused session of the Legislature, which he dubbed “Back to Work Wisconsin,” to pass even more “job-creating” laws. At the top of the jobs agenda? Gutting the state’s sex ed standards and replacing them with abstinence-only education.
A bill launched during Walker’s jobs session and nearing passage in the Legislature would repeal significant portions of the state law that requires schools to provide comprehensive, scientifically accurate, and age-appropriate sex ed. [...]
Republicans hold big majorities on the education committee and the Assembly overall, so the bill is expected to pass easily.
Multiple studies have confirmed that abstinence-only education does not decrease sexual activity among teens, but alarmingly reduces the number of teens who have safe sex. Virginity pledge programs increase pledge-takers’ risk for sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. Yet social conservatives continue to insist it’s the only morally acceptable sex curriculum. Abstinence-only programs jeopardize public health, and substitute religious dogma for science and sound policy.
The Healthy Youth Act just took effect this school year, and has been hailed as “an incredible public health victory in the state,” in the words of Sara Finger, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health. Yet Wisconsin Republicans want to remove requirements that schools teach about “the health benefits, side effects, and proper use of contraceptives.” The repeal legislation also nixes the recommendation that schools teach about “puberty, pregnancy, parenting, body image, and gender stereotypes.”
The new law would require instructors to “identify the skills necessary to remain abstinent” for their students. It does not specify what those “skills” might be, but Tamara Grigsby, the Democratic assemblywoman who wrote the Healthy Youth Act, puts it bluntly: teenagers are “having sex, whether we like it or not. I would hope that a responsible public policy would be to give them comprehensive and accurate information about how to protect themselves rather than pretending it’s not happening.”
Kate Sheppard notes that at a Wisconsin Right to Life convention, Walker praised a district attorney who claimed that teachers who taught the new curriculum were promoting the “sexualization—and sexual assault—of our children.” The DA also threatened those teachers with criminal charges.