Sexuality needs to be addressed

By Mike Dishnow, February 1, 2010

As a retired educator, I cannot but feel that you left conservative ideology trump the evidence.

I am retired, having more than 30 years of experience, primarily as a guidance counselor, in three states (Michigan, Alaska, Wisconsin). As such I was party to the issue of teenage sexuality and the ramifications thereof for most of my adult life, not to mention the experience of myself and those I knew as I entered adolescence and adulthood. This is one issue where the evidence from scientific studies and my own experiences over the years show the moderate and more liberal approaches to be superior (by far). Young people need the same information that (most) of the developed world’s adults are privy to on the issues of human sexuality and family planning/birth control plus disease prevention.

Have you ever wondered why the Europeans in general, with their very liberal and open approach to their youth and sexuality have such a superior record relative to the United States? I have, as did many of my professional peers over the years. Our research showed that the rates of unwanted pregnancies, STD rates and abortion rates were much lower than in the states. I have had foreign exchange students at my own home and have interacted with many others during my years as an educator. Almost without exception, I found they had a much more mature, respectful attitude about sex than our own kids. They also showed very high levels of respect for their parents and sex than many, if not most, of our own students.

I can never forget a gal from Finland who, when I queried about the (common perception here) that they cohabitated (at home) with their boyfriends and in their own bedrooms was taken aback. She said, “Mike, if I wanted to have sex with a boyfriend, I would go to some other place, never at home, in respect to my parents. This 17/18-year-old was not at all religious and she was, she told me, still a virgin.

You are listening to a man who had Republican leanings most of his life – until the GOP came under the sway of the religious right folks. Your social conservatives have destroyed the party for many of us. One of the primary reasons is the ideological purity the GOP seems to expect and its refusal to accept scientific research over outdated concepts. Are you aware of how the Europeans simply shake their heads at the fundamentalist religious views of so many Americans? I certainly do.

I like you. I have listened to you speak at veterans affairs and in other venues and there is much to like. You are a good man. I realize that good men stand on opposite sides of issues such as this – and, in their minds, they are all right.

All I am asking is that you listen to my thoughts and, perhaps, pay a bit more attention to the scientific research and the experiences of other cultures (Western Europe and Scandinavia) in these regards.

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