Michigan Bill Requires Equal Treatment for Abstinence Education

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 24, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Michigan Bill Requires Equal Treatment for Abstinence Education

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
May 24, 2004

Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — A bill that would require Michigan schools to spend more on abstinence education has passed the state Senate and is about to be considered by the House.

Senator Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland) proposed SB 943 in February, a bill that requires sex education classes to spend equal time on abstinence education as other "risk reduction" techniques, including birth control education. The legislation received bipartisan support in the Senate, passing 30-8, and is already out of committee in the House.

"I think in some school districts there wasn’t much of a focus on abstinence," said Darin Ackerman, Sen. Kuiper’s chief of staff. "It would get the lip service, but the rest of the time would be on sex education. This provides abstinence equal time to everything else that is being discussed."

Schools that fail to adequately include the abstinence education could lose up to 1 percent of their state funding. The bill would go into effect for the 2005-2006 school year.

Planned Parenthood has opposed the legislation as it regularly discourages abstinence education, even on its website for teens.

The abortion business appears to be at odds with education groups by opposing the abstinence education bill.

Ackerman said the bill has received wide support from such groups as the Michigan Education Association, the state’s board of education, and "virtually all of the alphabet education groups."

Such widespread support from education professionals reflects strong public opinion on the idea of abstinence and abstinence education.

"According to a 2003 nationally representative survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 85% of all teenagers agree that sex should only occur in a long-term, committed relationship after high school," testified Dan Jarvis Research and Policy Director at Michigan Family Forum before the Senate Education Committee.

"That same poll showed that 84% of teens believed that teen pregnancy prevention programs should teach young people to be married before they have a child," Jarvis added.

According to the survey, 67 percent of adolescents aged 12-19 who have had sex wish they had waited longer.

SB 943 would also involve parents more in the sex education programs, requiring at least half of a district’s health education advisory board to be parents with children attending a school in the district, and that the board’s chair also be a parent. Currently, there have been reports of district boards being comprised mostly of school employees, with meetings scheduled during business hours when parents have difficulty attending.

"Michigan adults closely reflect teenagers," noted Jarvis. "According to a representative statewide survey the Michigan Family Forum commissioned by the Wirthlin Group, 71% of adults thought that even adult couples should wait until after they are married to have sex."

A nationwide poll released in January by respected polling firm Zogby International also showed that that the vast majority of American parents want their children’s sex education classes to emphasize abstinence until marriage. Out of the 1,004 parents surveyed across the nation, 96 percent said abstinence is best for teens.

Related Sites:
Michigan Family Forum – https://www.mfforum.com