Utah HB 363; ignorance of sex is the best remedy

Dallas Hyland is a St. George News columnist, the opinions stated herein are solely his own and not those of St. George News.

OPINION – If I don’t know, I won’t want it. This was the idea I pitched to my wife when we walked by a store we both like and thought about going in. I figured if I did not go in to the place, I would likely not be enticed by the temptation to spend precious dollars on something I may or may not need but definitely desire.

I am sure you can relate to this.

But let’s apply this line of quasi-discipline to another field of human desire and see how it stacks up. Something like, say, sexual desire. Maybe if I did not know about sex, I would not desire it?

Back up: Not know about sex?

Is it not categorically absurd to think that if we don’t teach our children about it, they will operate effectively from a paradigm of ignorance and make good decisions?

That is what the proponents of House Bill 0363 would have you believe.

Setting aside for the moment that once again the legislators of this state are raising the bar on the level of perception the rest of the country has; that they allow a predisposition towards a religiously held standard to be the standard by which they govern everything from the alcohol content of our beverages to the things we are allowed to teach our children; is it not a bit fanciful to think teenagers will truly benefit from an abstinence-only curriculum?

I have children, three sons and a daughter. Nothing in this world would render my soul at ease more than seeing them become mature, well-rounded adults who engage well in critical thinking and find happiness, perhaps even love that lasts a lifetime. I believe in earnest that a decision to forego engaging in sexual relations until they are mature enough to understand and handle its consequences would be in line with the wisdom I so wish them to have.

But I was a teenager once, and it is my acute remembrance of those years that is the drive behind my appraisal of this legislation, that it is sheer idiocy.

First of all there is the simple reality of it. Ignorance of the methods of contraception will not in any way inhibit the desire for sex. And we are not talking about an average desire here, say like the one you have for a new iPod. We’re talking about the supreme of all desires known to humankind; a desire that drives an urge that is primal and nearly impossible to control.

It is time tested and proven that the best way to reduce the byproducts of poor decisions is to educate oneself on all aspects of a subject.

Second, and likely as important here, there are serious ramifications to the legislation of morality.

When should it ever be the place of the government of this state or any legislative body in this country to tell anyone what to teach our children from a vantage point of morality?

This is where it gets tricky and looking at both sides of the argument will likely produce a quagmire for the honest individual.

As a society, we are cognizant of the influence our educators have on our children outside of our homes. We place an immense pressure and responsibility on our educators and place them in the crossfire with this issue.

If they teach nothing, they are to blame for encouraging ignorance. If they lay it out in true academic fashion, presenting all sides with all the facts, they run the risk of offending some parent who wants to gauge the level of information their child receives.

The answer may well be that the best thing is for the parent to do a little more teaching at home, and let that include but not be limited to finding out what their children are learning not only at school but out there in the world. They are learning to live in the world broadly and parents should engage their children on that level, applying whatever moral standard to their teaching they see fit.

But requiring (or allowing, for that matter) our government to mandate what is taught sets a dangerous precedent for us all.

Wait until the government decides that people who read religious books are the root of social unrest and begin to mandate what is and is not to be taught in churches. But wait – it already is doing that in some places, isn’t it?

Think about it.

See you out there.

email: [email protected]

twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright 2012 St. George News.


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