Government funds moralistic sex booklet

Issue 

Government funds moralistic sex booklet

By Rohan Gaiswinkler

HOBART — A sex information booklet entitled "The Things You Do For Love" was launched here on July 16. The 12-page glossy booklet is a joint project of the Pregnancy Support Service and the Christian group "Youth With a Mission". It is funded by the Department of Education and the Arts.

The booklet has been criticised by people working in sex education and AIDS prevention. The booklet concentrates on abstinence as the only way to avoid AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. It presents condoms — a crucial component of safe sex — as risky, "even if used properly".

Its tone is insulting to young people, the people who most need to hear the safe sex message. Overall, the book uses scare stories and statistics to try to frighten young people away from sex (a tactic which doesn't work). It tells young people that it is OK to say no, but nothing about how to say no. It suggests that by saying yes you are "being used" and might "make a fool of yourself".

Ben Courtice, a spokesperson for the national youth organisation Resistance, told Green Left Weekly, "This sort of moralistic attitude will only alienate young people, who are having sex, regardless. Young people don't need guilt tripping and moralising; they need relevant information, which the booklet doesn't give."

Paul Duncombe, executive director of Family Planning Australia, was also critical. "Some of the messages, in their effort to be scary, work directly against the national strategies on health education. The message about condom reliability will almost certainly convince some young people that they are so ineffective that they are not worth using. If we applied that to seat-belt wearing, we would not do much for the road toll."