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Please Abstain From Telling Us To Promote Abstinence

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One thing the most creative of homophobes all say is, “have you tried just not having sex?”

Not only is this a tedious, worn out response that comes directly from a place of intolerance and privilege – it, quite simply, doesn’t work.

Here are three reasons (we don’t need many) why this approach helps no one:

  1. Promoting only abstinence doesn’t equip anyone with the tools to deal with any situation other than not having sex.
    Robust sex-education gives people the information they need about consent, prevention and testing, which allows them to navigate multiple situations and make decisions based on how they actually feel and what they understand the risk to be. Just look at the rates of STIs and unwanted pregnancies and the failure to delay the time taken to lose virginity in abstinence-only education states in the US to see that this has been proven completely ineffective.
  2. If abstinence is the “prevailing” ideal, then anything other than abstaining is instantly othered and forced underground.
    This means we lose a connection with those people who don’t want to abstain (also, why should they have to?) and any knowledge that would have been beneficial to keeping them safe will never get through. They will be doing it anyway, only now they have no access to non-judgmental harm-reduction information that could have helped them make informed decisions.
  3. Regardless of what blinkered lens you might be using to view life – people do not stop having sex.
    All throughout history, even those proclaiming the fire-and-brimstone damnation promised to those who have sex out of wedlock have been embroiled in scandals and continue to have sex. So, if even those most devout still choose to get it on – why would we ever want to stop people having healthy sex-lives that they can enjoy safely with the right information and tools? So, you can shout that you stayed “pure” until marriage and only had sex with one person until you’re sore in the throat – that’s still your choice, and kudos to your dedication if that’s what you wanted to do. But others do not need to prescribe to that outlook and it’s irresponsible to recommend that be the only way things should be done. If you chose abstinence, you quite literally got to choose to make that decision – taking that choice away for others can only be harmful.

Educating people and helping them become equipped to make their own decisions is always better than restricting their options and telling them that there’s only one way to be. So, let’s just shut that conversation down right now.

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