Tag Archives: abstinence only

Abstinence-Only Education Gives Birth to Arizona’s High Teen Pregnancy Rate

Arizona has an especially high teen-pregnancy rate. Arizona also promotes abstinence-only education in its public schools.

Arizona has an especially high teen-pregnancy rate. Arizona also promotes abstinence-only education in its public schools.

Arizona is known for a lot of things. The Grand Canyon, our universities, beautiful sunsets.

And, oh yeah, our truly awful teen pregnancy rate.

Ranked against the other 49 states, Arizona’s teen-pregnancy rate has been in the top 5 for years. And while you probably won’t see that little factoid emblazoned on a license plate anytime soon, teen pregnancy still has a significant impact on Arizona residents.


Abstinence-only education teaches that the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and STIs is to abstain from sex, which is true. It is also not very helpful to the 70 percent of teenagers who have had intercourse by age 19.


As of 2009, Arizona had the fifth highest teen birth rate in the United States. This trend is on the rise — as of 2006 the rate had increased by 6.5 percent. In 2009, 12,537 teenagers became pregnant. Of those pregnancies, 10,952 resulted in live births. While the majority of those women were either 18 or 19, that’s still about 3,500 girls under the age of 17 giving birth, a number that varies every year but generally stays in the 4000s. Continue reading

STI Awareness: “Can I Get an STD from Oral Sex?”

As tools to reduce risk for STI transmission, dental dams are not to be ignored.

As tools to reduce risk for STI transmission, dental dams are not to be ignored.

Many consider oral sex to be a safer form of sexual activity compared to vaginal or anal intercourse. For this reason, they might put less emphasis on the use of latex barriers, such as dental dams and condoms, during oral sex. Unfortunately, this idea is misguided and can lead to the transmission of preventable infections.

It is generally true that oral sex presents less of a risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – but this risk is not trivial, especially when people are under the impression that they don’t need to use barrier methods during oral sex. Most sexually transmitted infections can be passed along by oral sex, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis B, herpes (which can be transmitted back and forth from the mouth, as cold sores, to the genital region, as genital herpes), human papillomavirus (HPV), and HIV. Even pubic lice can be transferred from the genital region to eyelashes and eyebrows! Additionally, intestinal parasites are more likely to be transmitted via oral sex than through vaginal sex. A microscopic amount of fecal matter containing parasites can be infectious, and can be unknowingly ingested when present on genitals.


Seventy percent of adolescents who reported engaging in oral sex had never used a barrier to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections during oral sex.


Some bacterial STIs, such as gonorrhea and syphilis, can do permanent damage if not treated in time. Furthermore, gonorrhea of the throat is much more difficult to treat than gonorrhea in the genital or rectal areas. And some viral STIs can’t be cured (such as herpes and HIV), while others can cause chronic infections that have been linked to cancer (such as hepatitis, which is associated with liver cancer, and HPV, which is associated with throat cancer as well as cervical cancer and anal cancer). Continue reading

Support Comprehensive Sex Ed to Support Queer Youth

Since today is National Coming Out Day, I want to shine the spotlight on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and queer (LGBTQ) youth. In the past few weeks, the headlines have been filled with stories about LGBTQ teen suicides, and bullying in our schools.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, LGBTQ youth are four times as likely to commit suicide as their heterosexual peers, mainly as a result of the negative attitudes about LGBTQ people that are so pervasive in our culture.

Arizona is not immune to the negative climate for queer youth in our schools.  One of the challenges is that Arizona schools do not offer comprehensive sex education.  Rather, they focus on abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum.  Abstinence-only is a huge waste of money, and it’s harmful for all teens.  But let’s look at the particular problems that abstinence-only education creates for LGBTQ youth.

Arizona does not recognize the right of same-sex couples to get married. When LGBTQ youth hear that they should remain abstinent until marriage, they may interpret that message as not being applicable to their lives. As a result, they may have unprotected sex, since teens are not getting information about how to prevent sexually transmitted infections. Is it any wonder that 1 in 4 teens in the state of Arizona has a sexually transmitted infection?

Moreover, abstinence-only curriculum contributes to negative attitudes about LGBTQ people, because it assumes that heterosexuality is the norm. When LGBTQ teens are repeatedly told that they are abnormal, they may experience depression and other mental health effects. Is it any wonder that LGBTQ youth have such alarming suicide rates?

Planned Parenthood supports comprehensive sex education for all of Arizona’s youth. We also support candidates who will support our mission of promoting and protecting every person’s freedom and right to enjoy sexual health and well-being, to make reproductive choices, and build healthy, strong families.

Please lend your support to LGBTQ youth by voting for candidates who support comprehenisve sex education in our schools. Sex ed classes may be one of the few places that LGBTQ teens hear positive messages about themselves in the schools. And we owe it to our youth to send them a positive message. For a list of PPAA-endorsed candidates, check out our 2010 voter guide.