Does sex education belong in schools? – TV One Close Up
On TV One’s Close Up on 25 June 2012, host presenter Mark Sainsbury talked to American psychiatrist Dr Miriam Grossman and Auckland sex education specialist, Dr Katie Fitzpatrick. Dr Grossman has been brought to New Zealand by Family First NZ, a registered charity with the Charities Commission, to speak at its Conference on Thursday 28 June, in Auckland.
Dr Grossman was highly critical of the approach taken to sex education in our schools by the New Zealand Family Planning Association Inc. (FPA), another charity and lobby group like Family First NZ, registered with the Charities Commission. She referred to FPA material which she said failed to point young people towards the “ideals”of abstinence before marriage, fidelity and faithfulness within marriage, and the true nature of marriage as a life-long loving commitment of a man and a woman – providing a secure structure in which children can be raised and nurtured in an stable, safe and supportive loving environment – one that is sanctioned by the state.
She accused FPA of (1) focusing on the mere mechanics of sex and condom use in particular, (2) failing to highlight the “ideal” goal for young people to pursue of establishing a life-long commitment to a loving relationship where sexual intimacy can be expressed as nature intended, (3) disseminating misinformation about the ‘safety’/effectiveness level of condoms as a safeguard against STI transmission, and (4) accepting as a given that sexual promiscuity is so widespread among young persons that little can be done to address the problems of unwanted pregnancies and STDs, other than handing out free condoms and informing young pregnant girls about how they can secure an abortion.
Dr Katie Fitzpatrick disagreed and vigorously defended FPA’s policies and practice, stressing that instruction in the nature of human relationships within which sexual intercourse is appropriate is in fact taught by FPA. However, the evidence cited by Grossman from FPA website and printed content, indicated that it is largely devoid of any messages encouraging teenagers to abstain from sex prior to marriage (as an alternative to casual sex) and certainly provides few if any with reasons for doing so.
Grossman feels that FPA has failed to inform young people of the seriousness of the consequences of engaging in promiscuous casual sex. FBA material such as “Get it On” and content on its “theword” website (www.theword.org.nz) came in for attack.
The New Zealand Family Planning Association Inc. (“Family Planning”) was registered as a charity with the Charities Commission on 13 September 2007 (Reg. No. CC11104). In the financial year ended 30 June 2011 FPA received income made up of $11,362,189 (government grants/contracts), $859,746 (other grants), $2,039,486 (income from service), $2,779 (membership fees) and $11,089 (donations). Its total gross income was $15,071,008, the bulk of it sourced from NZ taxpayers.
FPA’s total expenditure for 2010/11 was $14,624,562 with $10,014,371 alone spent on salaries and wages. It employed 62 people full-time and 214 people part-time. In an average week 6500 hours of paid work was carried out, the vast bulk of it funded by the NZ taxpayer.