(cross-posted at Daily Whackjob)
Governor Tim Kaine cut federal funding that was provided to schools that promoted abstinence-only sexual education. Conservatives (of the social variety) have been spewing various amounts of outrage. Many state this is promoting immoral behavior, encouraging promiscuity, and so forth.
However, let's be realistic here. Teenagers have been trying to find ways and reasons to have sex since the beginning of recorded history.
Should we have sex-ed programs that stress and promote abstinence? Of course! Anyone who says "we should encourage teens to have sex as early and as often as possible" would be nuts! That's something that the vast majority of us would agree with. However, we have to be smart about this and realize that abstinence-only hasn't exactly proven to be a big hit or a successful deterrent to teens doing...well, "it".
Parents should have the ability to opt their children out of sex-ed classes, and most people also agree with that.
I also believe we teach sex-ed at too young of an age. I remember being in the 3rd grade, all of 9 years old, doing diagrams of the different parts of a penis and a vagina. Even though I do believe that kids these days "grow up faster" and learn more at an earlier age than previous generations...there is no need to augment the rapid decrease in time that a child has to simply be a child. I'd say that 5th grade (normally 10-11 years old) is a good time to start with sex-ed, but go with the basics (anatomical differences, etc...)
Anything earlier than that is the responsibility of the parents to decide if their kids are mature enough to handle the subject matter at hand.
Let's be fair about this, as well...promote abstinence from the start. However, starting in late middle-school and high school, lay it out there that if you choose not to abstain from pre-marital sex, one should use protection. Teach the mechanics, talk about the risks of unsafe sex, especially with multiple partners. Talk about STD's, et cetera...pretty much common-sense stuff.
On the issue of homosexuality, I believe that children should be taught what it is and that it exists...but no moral "Yes, it's OK" or "No, it's wrong" stamp should be placed on it. There's too much gray area in terms of how people feel about homosexual relationships that to have the public schools approve or disapprove of it, that would be wrong and exclusive.
The point of my idea is that you wait until the kids are mature enough to handle the subject matter before the schools get involved. Also, I believe that this idea of mine allows for a fairly universal form of objective morality (promote abstinence or at least "waiting" until you're older, teaching safe sex habits...the things we all generally agree on). At the same time, it reduces the effect the curriculum has on the more subjective aspects of people's morals. (whether or not being gay/lesbian is OK, whether or not abstinence is the only way, etc...)
Obviously, I'm not an expert on this subject. I'm just simply attempting to apply common sense to an issue that people take so many different sides on.