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The Crux Project Archives: Sex & Family


Planned Parenthood's Teenwire and its encouragement of adolescent sexual behavior

by Dawn Eden

Of all the contradictions of this age of moral relativism, surely one of the strangest is that those who don't believe in objective truth hold that it is impossible for good people to disagree.

The Planned Parenthood philosophy, as expressed on both its own website and its sex-ed website Teenwire, is that one's personal morality as expressed in sexual behavior is neither good nor bad—so long as no one gets physically hurt (save for the occasional unborn child). So one person's abstinence is as good as another person's promiscuity—so long as the promiscuous party uses a condom. The only wrong way to think about sex, in Planned Parenthood's view, is to believe that sexual behavior is not just the result of a decision one makes based on individual morality, but that it contains within itself an intrinsic and inseparable moral dimension.

Teenwire does observe one single and incontrovertible moral rule: "Thou shalt use a latex barrier." Every sexual act is seen through this prism. Not, "Is this behavior appropriate for 13-year-old girls and boys?"—that being the lower end of Teenwire's target age range (13-19). Not, "Will this behavior put children at risk of physical and emotional harm?" Only, "Are the children 'protecting' themselves?" So long as the kids are using a latex condom or dental dam, then, in Teenwire's view, to bar them from having their fun would be, well, a sin.

This is why Teenwire instructs children who are "queer or questioning" to find "lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender" (LGBT) sex partners online.

Police departments have been well aware for years that children seeking friends on the internet are easy prey for sexual predators. But in Teenwire's "The ABCDs of LGBT Dating," writer Ray Dudley gushes, "Some LGBT teens find each other online, which can be the fastest way to connect with others in your area."

"'In my school, in Illinois, there aren't many gay teens,' says Jeff, 16. 'I went online last year and met a guy who lived two hours away. We mostly chatted online or over the phone, but we ended up dating like that for three months and it was really great.'"

But Teenwire doesn't leave heterosexual kids out of the fun. They, too, can enjoy the benefits of male homosexual sex—even if they're 13-year-old girls. In "All About the Anus," Christy Brownlee writes, "Anal sex play is often associated with gay men. However, many men and women, regardless of whether they're gay, lesbian, straight, or bisexual, enjoy anal stimulation. And many, including gay men, don't. Some straight couples use anal sex as a way to preserve the woman's virginity."

In one fell swoop, thousands of years of moral teachings about the beauty and sanctity of virginity are reduced to this: little girl, if you can take your eyes off that Olsen Twins DVD long enough to let a man penetrate you anally, not only will you feel good, but you'll "preserve" your "virginity."

At this point, one could be forgiven for thinking that Planned Parenthood's goal is not to prevent teen pregnancy, but rather to sexualize children. The organization's online brochure "Human Sexuality: What Children Need to Know and When They Need to Know It" reinforces that assumption with instructions on how to teach children about touching their genitalia. The masturbation-ed should start before age 5, Planned Parenthood states, when children should learn that "touching their sex organs for pleasure is normal."

Note the deliberate choice of language. Planned Parenthood is not merely interested in making sure that children are not ashamed of their bodies. Rather, they are to be instructed, again and again, that it is normal to touch themselves "for pleasure."

That pleasure, for teenagers, can come in the form of pornography, Teenwire states, so long as the teens realize that they don't have to measure up to the porn actors' bodies.

But there is indeed something wrong with pornography, and a kid has to only click on Teenwire's "In Focus" section to learn what it is. The article "Porn Vs. Reality," also by Christy Brownlee, assures teens that "most people who have real sex don't look anything like people who have sex in porn, especially the women."

To back up her point, Brownlee quotes the owner of a sex-toy store chain, Toys in Babeland, and provides a link to another site, Scarleteen: Sex Education for the Real World, for more information. Scarleteen turns out to include a shopping portal where children may purchase sadomasochistic sex toys and pornography without being asked their age. Retailers in the shopping portal include none other than Toys in Babeland. Chalk one up to Teenwire for cross-promotion.

Last July, when South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, at the urging of Sioux Falls Bishop Robert Carlson, took the bold and principled stance of removing a Teenwire link from the state library's website, Planned Parenthood attacked him as a censor. Yet the organization seems to have no concept of self-censorship when offering advice to children at a most vulnerable age, on issues that affect their physical and emotional health on the deepest level.

Clearly, it's impossible to disagree with Teenwire's "just do it" philosophy and remain a moral person in Planned Parenthood's eyes. Thankfully, parents can take the site's advice and use strong prophylactics—in the form of the best Teenwire-blocking web filters money can buy. •

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