Responding to Dr. Marc Lamont Hill on Sex Education

In a recent article (http://theloop21.com/society/sex-education-or-sexuality-education-danger-of-saving-ourselves), Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Columbia University professor, contended that abstinence-only sex education is “ineffective,” “flawed,” and “dangerous.” Just as I disagreed with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill for “hating” Drake, I also disagree with his opposition to abstinence-only sex education. Dr. Hill is one of the leading public intellectuals of our time and someone I deeply admire. As much as I respect, admire, and appreciate the work of Dr. Hill, I cannot disagree more with him on abstinence-only sex education.

As a person who experienced sex education in high school, I found that it only increased the desire of everyone in the class to engage in sex—risky sex at that. How do I know this? Everyone said it! We never had the opportunity to experience abstinence-only sex education in my high school. Although that we know that our young people are having sex at early ages, we cannot give up on promoting abstinence-only in the classroom and in curriculums. Pre-K – 12 should instill in our children character—not hand them a condom.

The decision to tell children about condoms and how to prevent getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) should be left to parents to decide. Parents do not send their children to school to have teachers telling them all kinds of things about condoms and how to prevent getting an STD. Our children should receive an education that teaches the best and brightest aspects about life and America. Even from the advent of American education, character education has been a mainstay. We should never give up on telling our children to just say no to sex while they are still in the Pre-K-12 educational pipeline. Schools should be promoting civil behavior—not saying, “Hey, if you’re going to go ahead and have sex, make sure that you put on a condom.” Children are exposed to so many dangers when we assume that they are going to have sex anyway.

We have to continue to promote abstinence-only sex education because we must insist that our children are going to be responsible individuals who wait until they have graduated from high school before they have sexual intercourse. Now, Dr. Hill certainly believed in the rhetoric of hope that then Senator Obama was selling, so I expect for him to have hope that abstinence-only sex education can be the most effective and appropriate form of sex education we can deliver to our students. Although comprehensive sex education may sound like we are fully education our children about sex, I contend that this is an improper thing for schools to do. Schools should leave the more controversial aspects of sex education to children’s parents.

Do you really want some man or woman in a classroom telling your child how to use a condom? If we devote more time, resources, and money to abstinence-only sex education, then we can see better results emerge and we can see it become more effective. The problem is you have people like Dr. Hill saying that it is not enough, and this ends up having such an influence on curriculum developers. Dr. Hill, why don’t you just dedicate more time to thinking about better ways to make abstinence-only sex education more effective instead of trying to demean it as you have in the aforementioned article? In your criticism of Drake, Dr. Hill, you say that he “leaves much to be desired.” On this issue, I say that you leave much to be desired. You are still one of my favorite and most admired public intellectuals, however.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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