The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Gays Can’t Abstain? Neither Can Heteros.

This got a “Hey! Wait just a minute!” response from me when it drifted past my radar yesterday. It concerns a Florida student attempting to start a Gay-Straight Alliance in her school, and the resistance she got from school administrators. But what blows my mind is the reason school officials gave for blocking a Gay-Straight Alliance.

[Yasmin] Gonzalez is suing under the 1984 federal Equal Access Act, which ironically was initially pushed by evangelical Christians after some public schools banned after-school prayer meetings. It says that if a public school allows any extracurricular activities to meet on campus it must allow all groups to do the same.

Gonzalez says that when she tried to register her club administrators first told her the school didn’t allow any despite listing more than a dozen on its Web site. Gonzalez says she was later told there were too many clubs, and finally that the school had an abstinence-only policy.

Um. No pun intended, but … Come again? I can’t have read that right, because it sound like the school is suggesting that gays can’t practice abstinence or — as Jessica says — only heterosexuals can.

Not that it probably matters much to matters much to them, but the evidence hardly supports that assumption.

As soon as I read the article, I remembered a post from Box Turtle Bulletin about a study showing that heterosexuals pretty much suck at abstinence. (Pun intended.)

The study, which used statistics from the 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, asked about 40,000 people ages 15-44 about their sexual behavior and traced the trends in premarital sex back to the 1950s.

Of those interviewed in 2002, 95% reported they had had premarital sex; 93% said they did so by age 30. Among women born in the 1940s, nearly nine in 10 did. At the same time, people are waiting longer to marry; 2005 data show median age at first marriage is just over 25 for women and 27 for men.

Even a minority Baptist newlyweds are virgins on their wedding night, as Jim also notes at Box Turtle Bulletin. And let’s not even discuss the Christian swingers group that promotes “responsible non-monogamy or polyamory as a legitimate choice for Christians and others,” based on the “original Hebrew and Greek texts.” (Via Preemptive Karma.) It shouldn’t come as a surprise. As with every other species, people are hard wired to have sex. (And, yes, countless other animal species have same-sex activity.) As a result people in general are pretty lousy at maintaining abstinence.

Besides, by the logic the school administrators used, they should apply the same standard to heterosexual students and immediately disband all the other student clubs as well. After all, heterosexual students aren’t any more capable of abstinence than gay students, so if those other student clubs are co-ed, there’s gotta be a whole lot of non-abstaining going on.

And it doesn’t matter if the other student clubs aren’t formed for the purpose of facilitating sexual activity, because the Gay-Straight Alliance isn’t intended as a sex-club either, but the other clubs must have the same potential for becoming sex clubs.Right? Because, given the evidence, heterosexuals aren’t any less sex-crazed than some of they accuse gays of being, nor are they necessarily more capable of restraint.

I guess in that regard we’re pretty much — dare I say it? — equal.


  1. Your posting reminded me of something I saw in passing recently, which stated that kids who sign abstinence pledges were more likely to engage in anal and oral sex, and less likely to use condoms when they did become sexually active.
    I would categorize this under the heading “Law of Unintended Consequences” that I would put Gonzalez use of the Equal Access Act in this circumstances. Whatever the Christian right does to try to control the public agenda ultimately blows back on them, in ways they would never have expected.

  2. … and finally that the school had an abstinence-only policy.

    Great catch! Great post.

  3. I doubt that the school really believes the abstinence-only policy had anything to do with anything; they’re just flailing. Conservatives didn’t think very hard about exactly what the Equal Access Act would mean, back when they passed it, and they’ve been throwing temper tantrums about it ever since.