HEALTH: by Miriam Grossman MDNews Weekly
Medical doctor exposes the lies of sex education
, July 21, 2012
When I graduated from medical school, I took an oath. I stood up, raised my right hand, and swore to prevent disease whenever I could. At that moment, I believed the battles that lay ahead would be against cancer, heart disease and emotional disorders.
But after two decades, and thousands of hours with young patients in distress, I’ve discovered my most challenging fight is not against dangerous diseases, but against dangerous ideas.
I am referring to those ideas that are central to what I’m going to call the sex education industry. This industry began in the US, and, like many ill-conceived notions from America, it’s been successfully exported to the rest of the world.
Children are told that, from cradle to grave, sexual expression is a human right. Early sexual activity with multiple partners is assumed, high-risk behaviours are normalised, and an attitude of openness and adventure is celebrated.
But, of course, these are the very behaviours that fuel the epidemics of genital infections, unwanted pregnancies, abortion and emotional distress — whether or not a condom is used. Young people who practise the lifestyle endorsed by these US federally-funded groups have more doctors’ appointments, not fewer.
These problems are not abstractions to me — I’m reporting to you from the frontline. Over the past 25 years I’ve seen a steady stream of people come through my office who were suffering from the sexual decisions they’d made. Their suffering was 100 per cent avoidable.
Often, when I explained to one of these students the science you’re about to read, she’d say: “That makes so much sense! Why didn’t I know that? Why didn’t anybody tell me?”
These were good questions, and I began to wonder. I’d read years ago in medical journals about, say, why girls are so vulnerable to STIs, or about the biochemistry of attachment — how we are wired to attach emotionally through intimate behaviour. So why hadn’t this science reached my patients?
After all, they knew all about diet, heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer and a whole range of health issues. So why was there this ignorance about the consequences of intimate behaviour? These questions and others led me to write the book Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student (New York: Sentinel, 2006).
Each chapter describes patients of mine, and how they were harmed by the sexual ideologies and omission of biological truths in sex education. The students I wrote about in this book made a lasting impression on me. They turned me into an activist, and it’s because of them that I’m here today.
After Unprotected, I went deeper into what’s taught in sex education, especially the websites and books recommended to adolescents. As a physician and a parent, I couldn’t believe what I saw. And that’s why my second book is called You’re Teaching My Child WHAT? (available from News Weekly books).
So for the past seven years I’ve been studying sex education — how it began and what it is now. I was astonished to realise that sex education is not primarily concerned with preventing disease. Rather, it is a social movement. Its goal is to change society. This was the case 50 years ago when it began, and it is still true.
Like all social movements, sex education is not based on how the world is, but on how a group of activists believe the world should be. It’s based on their dream — their vision of the perfect world. In this fantasy world there are no substantial differences between male and female. If such differences exist, they are not inborn and eternal; they are due to forces in society, against which we are obligated to struggle.
But this is a made-up world — it doesn’t exist. In the real world, the differences between male and female are vast and permanent. One of these differences is that girls have unique biological sensitivities, and early sexual behaviour endangers them more than it does boys. That’s not sexist; it’s something that’s seen under a microscope.
Furthermore, certain behaviours and lifestyles are 100 per cent risk-free while others are treacherous.
But when the facts — including biological facts — challenge the educator’s vision of a perfect world, they are omitted from sex education.
Three groups pay the highest price when biological truths cannot be told and cradle-to-grave sexual freedom is celebrated: girls, women, and men who have sex with other men.
Now, I know there are lots of variation from one school to the next in what students are taught. But if you examine the most popular websites and pamphlets created for young people, you’ll find that they are not medically accurate or ideologically neutral.
First, the claim is made by these groups that they are on the same page as parents. Most parents believe that teens should be encouraged to delay sex at least until after high school. In public forums, in material written for parents and policy-makers, the sex education industry insists they have the same goal.
However, organisations such as the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) and Planned Parenthood introduce students to high-risk behaviours and lifestyles, normalising them, discussing them as acceptable, healthy options.
Next is their claim of being medically accurate and science-based. There are so many examples I could give, but this one takes the cake. It’s about human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes warts, abnormal PAP smears, and on rare occasions, cancer — the one we have the vaccine against.
Dr Vanessa Cullins, an obstetrician-gynaecologist and vice-president for medical affairs at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), states: “Once you become sexually intimate, expect to have HPV. All of us get it.”
But this is a preposterous assertion. HPV and every other STI are 100 per cent avoidable, without taking a lifelong vow of chastity, and Dr Cullins knows it.
Moreover, certain choices place people at very high risk for HPV. Other choices ensure avoidance of HPV. In the first category are sexually active teen girls, and men who have sex with other men. In the second category — i.e., those with zero per cent risk of infection — are couples who delay sexual behaviour, and have a lifelong, monogamous relationship (otherwise known as marriage).
But instead of encouraging that ideal, this Planned Parenthood doctor leads vulnerable young people to think that, sooner or later, they will get this virus. It’s a rite of passage: “Expect to get HPV. All of us get it.”
It is like the AMA announcing, “Expect to have diabetes and heart attacks once you reach a certain age — all of us do”, without mentioning diet, tobacco and exercise.
What Dr Cullins fails to address is: why does HPV infect girls so easily?
Girls are more vulnerable. Girls under the age of 20 are being hardest hit, one reason being their immature cervix. It’s critical to understand this.
All things being equal, the cervix of an adult is more difficult to infect than the cervix of a teen. The more mature cervix is protected by 20 or 30 layers of cells. In contrast, the cervix of a teen has a central area called the transformation zone, where the cells are only one layer thick.
This is one of the reasons for our current pandemic of genital infections in teen girls.
Mind you, this is widely understood in the medical community. But the science about girls’ vulnerability is omitted from sex education — and all the while they claim to be feminists advancing the welfare of young women.
Boys don’t have this area of vulnerability in their reproductive system, but they do in their gastro-intestinal system. And this is one of many reasons anal intercourse is so dangerous. Even with a condom, anal intercourse is a high-risk activity, at least 20-30 times more risky for transmission of HIV.
I have a friend who for 30 years was the director of all the STD/AIDS programs in Colorado Springs. John Potterat has authored about 200 publications about STDs. I asked him what he told his kids about this form of sexual expression. John told them, “The anus is an exit not an entrance.” This is not the Bible, he told them; this is science. Nature put a tight sphincter at the entrance of the anus for a reason: Keep out!
The last thing I want to tell you about is the biochemistry of attachment.
Young people are being led to believe that casual sexual encounters with no strings attached are an acceptable, healthy option — in other words, that intimate behaviour is easily divorced from emotional attachment. This is the message foisted on us by the entertainment, music and fashion industries.
But, once again, like so many of the things we’re discussing here, it’s girls who pay the price This is what I see in my office: after a few hook-ups, a young women is surprised to realise she has some feelings for the young man. This girl is completely unaware that, as a woman, she has vulnerabilities related to sexual behaviour that a young man doesn’t. That’s not sexist; that’s biology.
During intimate behaviour, the brain is flooded with oxytocin. Oxytocin is a politically-incorrect hormone. It challenges the agendas that say the differences between men and women are due to socialisation, and that sexual behaviour can be easily separated from emotional attachment.
Men also have hormones that promote attachment, and of course they develop emotional bonds too. But remember men — especially young men — have a lot of testosterone. And testosterone drives them to distribute their DNA as far and wide as possible.
Another difference between male and female is that oestrogen ramps up the effect of oxytocin, and testosterone dampens it. (Girls, remember your oestrogen peaks at ovulation, so you are physiologically primed to attach and trust when you are sexual at that time of month).
In addition to promoting attachment, oxytocin affects our judgment and risk-taking. It affects brain circuits related to feelings of trust. During intimate behaviour, it turns caution off and trust on.
When it comes to sexuality, kids are being taught that they can play with fire — and the waiting-rooms of doctors and therapists are filled with people who’ve been burned, inside and out.
I urge all readers of this article to condemn these dangerous messages.
Science affirms the age-old wisdom of restricting sexual expression to marriage. Tell students that the pain and anguish of STIs are 100 per cent avoidable. It’s all in their hands, and they can do it.
Educate yourselves about the groups promoting sex education in Australia, and see for yourselves the material they promote to students.
There’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s not easy to speak of these things. It’s awkward and everyone squirms. But the stakes are very, very high, and we must do all we can so that young people don’t come to us and ask, “Why didn’t I know that? Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
American psychiatrist and bestselling author Dr Miriam Grossman recently visited Australia. The above article is an extract from a speech she delivered on July 1, 2012. Her website is at: www.miriamgrossmanmd.com