Not unexpectedly, there has been some discussion regarding the modification of Madison’s previous Sex Ed bill, the “Healthy Youth Act” (HYA), which was passed before Wisconsin’s transition of power (to Republican) in January 2011.

The “Healthy Youth Act” required that all Sex Ed programs state-wide teach the proper use of contraceptives and barrier methods (i.e. demonstrate condom use in the classroom).  It also failed to provide abstinence training to pupils.  In other words, it favored the more liberal approach, “let’s give up and assume that all kids have sex, and let’s try to equip them with the knowledge on how to reduce the risks.”  Planned Parenthood was selected to create the new Sex Ed program.

Two thirds of America favors abstinence until marriage, so it is not unexpected that when Republicans came into power, some modifications were proposed to the previous bill.  In the absence of abstinence training, if schools provided instruction on the “proper use of contraceptives and barrier methods,” it was feared that the take-home message could easily be the condoning  of promiscuity and early sexual experimentation.

Senate Bill 237 makes modifications to the “Healthy Youth Act,” and is called the “Strong Communities…Healthy Kids Act” (SCHKA).  It provides for the inclusion of abstinence training in Sex Ed, as well as education about adoption resources, post-natal support, and other options.  Senate Bill 237 allows individual communities to opt out of the “Healthy Youth Act’s” requirement for teaching the proper use of contraceptives and barrier methods (demonstrating condom use) in the classroom. It allows customization of  Sex Ed programs by each community, rather than requiring all schools state-wide to adopt the Planned Parenthood -designed curriculum.

More information on the differences between HKA and SCHKA can be found at the Wisconsin State Legislature website.  under Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau.

More information may follow on this website, but for now I am just posting my testimony this afternoon at the Senate hearing, as I promised to some:

(Brief response to previous comments:

NOTE: Previous discussion by some liberal Senators included statements implying that those advocating abstinence education are afraid to talk about sex; also that there is only one scientific and “medically accurate” way to educate kids about sex, the HYA way. They also implied that all communities have large numbers of children who are sexually active early, and that this phenomenon does not vary from community to community and cannot be changed.  The opinion was expressed that the mention of abstinence as the only sure way to avoid STD’s and pregnancy would compromise children into having less regard for the contraceptive methods that were subsequently taught):

Before reading my statement, I’d like to address some of the previous comments.

I am NOT afraid of discussing sexuality.

I am a Ph.D. biochemist who 28 years ago taught human physiology and sexuality to a bunch of freshmen at Oakland University, Michigan, while I was in my ninth month of pregnancy.
I spoke about these issues often with my own children.  I have two sons who are 27 and 24 years old, and who have had absolutely no difficulty learning and embracing an abstinent lifestyle.

And so, with that preface, I would like to read my statement…

Although I do have a few more notes on previous comments…

As a scientist I can tell you that scientists DO disagree on most important issues, including the best way to prevent teen pregnancy and STD’s, and they disagree on what is and is not “medically accurate.”

The Center for Disease Control states that abstinence is the only way to protect from STD’s.

Children DO differ in their sexual activity, depending on the training they have received in their community.  I can tell you that from my Madison community, early sexual activity among children is very significantly reduced, and abstinence training works.  But you have to train them, you don’t just say one word, “abstinence.”  Just as people with a different vision advocate training in their perspective, abstinence also requires training.

Many scientists believe that the “Healthy Youth Act” gives children false information by omission.

Now my statement, which you probably all have copies of.  I will try to quickly read:

Syte Reitz’s Statement

Senate Public Hearing, Committee on Education, Senate Bill 237, October 19, 2011 12 PM

My name is Syte Reitz.  My family is a typical Madison family.  We support Senate bill 237.

I am a Ph.D. biochemist, did postdoctoral work at Princeton University, worked as a professor, homeschooled our children up to admission to UW Madison, and now I’m a local Madison blogger on cultural and political issues at

Our family and our friends are well educated.  We are scientists.  My husband is a Wisconsin Distinguished professor whose work in fuel efficiency is known globally and which is being used in UW’s EcoCAR.  Our sons are both UW graduates, one in engineering, one in math and computer science.

We believe in sexual responsibility and in abstinence like 70% of American parents and 60% of American teens who also favor abstinence before marriage, according to a recent US government study, National US Survey of Teens and Their Parents.

The Center for Disease Control also recommends abstinence as the primary mechanism for the reduction of STD’s in our population.

Self-control has served as the foundation of our society. It is an essential element of

  • Law and order
  • A good education
  • Morality and honesty
  • Athletic discipline
  • Musical training
  • Scientific training
  • And all other important human achievements.

Self-control is also an essential element of responsible sexuality:

  • Abstinence is not anachronistic, nor is it unachievable.
  • Abstinence is not likely to be learned unless it is taught.  It must be included in a good sex education program.
  • Abstinence strengthens marriages; it strengthens families, and is the only sure method for avoidance of a host of medical and psychological disorders.

Why would anybody dumb our children down and doubt that our children are also capable of responsible behavior and self-control in the area of sexuality and family life?

Senate bill 237

  • allows the design of curricula that reflect these community values
  • promotes parental control of sex education for kids
  • allows a number of effective approaches to teach kids healthy behaviors
  • simplifies and complements a law which has become cumbersome and failed to cover all important aspects of sex education.  The previous Healthy Youth Act contained some omissions which could inadvertently send the message that promiscuity was being encouraged.

Please support Senate bill 237.

Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder!