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Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright

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When Where They Teach Overrides What's Being Said About Sex Ed

Posted: 11/03/11 03:42 PM ET

They must be right. They're based at Princeton! How often have academics been taken for their word simply because they namedrop their university, even when what they have to say is complete garbage? Spouting their values instead of research data, professors have been known to do their damage in claiming authority on a subject matter simply because of where they teach -- and not because of what they teach or their area of expertise.

In a recent editorial to the New York Times, Robert George and Melissa Moschella incorrectly warn parents that students in comprehensive sexuality education are "encouraged to disregard what you told him about sex." They falsely claim that classes sexualize children in a "values free" environment as teachers push their own sexual ideology. They liken mandated sex ed efforts to those of "forcing Muslim parents to send their children to a Catholic Mass."

Any lay reader is going to, understandably, find all of this absolutely horrific. Even those (the majority) who want and support comprehensive sex education for their children are going to question such tactics, especially when they're cited by the Ivy League. Given the Princeton affiliation, parents are likelier to believe all of the aforementioned warped information than they are to dispute its validity, let alone if the writers truly have the credentials to be commenting on this topic.

Most parents aren't going to question that George, a politics professor, and Moschella, a political theory doctoral student, have no background in human sexuality. Many will disregard that George is, in fact, founder of the American Principles Project, a right-wing, conservative organization, which fights efforts like same-sex marriage. Many won't wonder why the writers use zero data, let alone evidence-based research, to back their claims. The Princeton creds override it all.

As any comprehensive sexuality education expert will attest, efforts involve working with the family's sexual attitudes, values and beliefs, and how these play into responsible decision-making. Lessons seek to support the parents' sexual ideology while equipping youth with the information needed for health maintenance. Proof of such can be found in examining the curricula. The positive results of implementation can be confirmed in reviewing the abundant research data proving the effectiveness of comprehensive sex education.

In spite of such, George and Moschella's editorial holds weight because they've signed themselves as affiliated with Princeton University. Given the power such a relationship holds, people should seriously question if any academic should be allowed to name their university affiliation when pushing a personal, values-laden agenda.

 

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