Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TeenSTAR: Why is it so controversial?

TeenSTAR Program Challenges Sex Ed Approach
by Amanda Pawloski

NEW YORK, February 17 (C-FAM) The latest round of budget battles in Washington, D.C. concerning foreign aid underscore a decades-long battle involving what values should be imparted to youth regarding sex. An International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) declaration on sexual rights issued last year is highly touted at international events and demonstrates how many liberal organizations view young people’s sexuality. The declaration amounts something like a manifesto of pleasure, and particularly asserts youth are bearers of “sexual rights.” The focus on youth at the UN has been to liberate them from their parents in the name of sexual rights.

Yet, Dr. Hanna Klaus’ Teen STAR (Sexuality Teaching in the context of Adult Responsibility) program is challenging that assumption. Klaus is an OB/GYN doctor and religious sister with the Medical Mission Sisters. Her abstinence education course has become an international phenomenon, receiving positive feedback from its participants. One Ethiopian mother stated, “my daughter taught me about menstruation.” 

Teen STAR does not fit into either the abstinence-only or comprehensive sex education category, since they offer information on how to control fertility through one’s natural cycle, otherwise known as natural family planning. “We do not control people by withholding information, we teach anybody and it is up to them to use their free will,” says Klaus.

In December 2006 Klaus began receiving funds for her program from the US Agency for International Development for HIV prevention. “Abstinence prevents everything, you essentially kill two birds with one stone,” said Klaus. “People will still exert their will no matter what you do.”
However, critics also abound, and a complaint was filed against Teen STAR in October 2007 by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Homosexual activists, posing as Scandinavian interns, initiated the original complaint. The Center for Reproductive Rights describes Teen STAR as “a discriminatory, gender-biased and medically inaccurate extra-curricula sex education program.” The case has since been resolved in favor of Teen STAR.

The attack on Teen STAR’s funding was part of a larger campaign from the Center for Reproductive Rights to de-fund all abstinence education programs supported by USAID and PEPFAR because they do not promote condoms or inform about abortion. When the Obama administration cut funding to all abstinence-only programs, Teen STAR also lost grant money.

The program is designed to inform teens about natural fertility cycles while encouraging them to wait for marriage. Teen STAR has been working to improve tracking outcomes to provide accurate long-term data on its success rates. Klaus notes that the short-term tracking has always demonstrated a reduction in sexual activity.

Most people put contraception and abstinence on the same line, but there is a huge difference in controlling behavior through respect versus isolating fertility,” says Klaus. “Contraceptive programs have very limited effectiveness in that regard.”

In conjunction with their program Teen STAR hosts parent meetings where the instructors explain what will be taught to the children. The program is careful to be sensitive to what parents have already chosen for themselves regarding family planning.

No comments: