A few days later, we responded to the sex educator:
November 20, 1995
Dear Mrs. [Name],
Thank you for your letter. It is clear that you and your husband truly do care about the children you are trying to educate, and we respect that.
However, you misunderstand much of what our article was about. You claim that we don't want information about sex to be taught at school. Clearly, that's not what our piece said. We simply want the truth to be told to young people, and that truth should be told in the context of the very highest societal standards.
Some of your implications about us and our beliefs are a bit far-fetched. For example, we know that many children do not come from homes that follow "traditional fundamentalist Christian beliefs." Neither of us is a fundamentalist, and in fact, both our husbands are quite secular (one of them is Jewish).* Nevertheless, they and we believe that the highest standard for sex is within marriage. Surely you must realize that teen abstinence is not simply an arbitrary issue of morality as you imply, but a standard of civilization. You want to teach kids about "responsible" sex, but there is no such thing as "responsible" unmarried teen sex! It is by definition irresponsible, and for an adult in a position of power to remain non-judgmental about that fact is hard for us to swallow.
Forget religious morality -- isn't abstinence the best thing for teens' emotional and physical health, as well as for the stability of society? You already know the answer, yet you won't hold up abstinence as the expected standard for teens. And you say the word "marriage" is "judgmental," which left us completely stunned. Who in the world and among all the world's cultures, ethnicities and religions -- except for the tiniest minority of fringe groups -- is offended by the standard of marriage? The day marriage starts to become a negotiable, even undesirable institution, is the day that a society starts to collapse. Surely you must know that all societies that survive are built on marriage. To refuse to hold up marriage as a standard for our society is itself irresponsible and is an attitude that directly helps fuel the very problems you are trying to address!
You admit that many of your students have irresponsible and neglectful parents. Yet you claim that your concern is not to offend the values of these families or parents! Do you see the tragic inconsistency with this posturing? What values of those homes do you wish not to offend? The value of drug and alcohol abuse? The value of neglecting and/or abusing children? The value of moving from one sex partner to another while the kids watch and ultimately imitate? The value of complete lack of parental involvement or concern in any aspect of a kid's life? Yet somehow you are afraid of offending these parents' (if you can call them that) religious or moral values? These kids -- who most need someone, some adult in a position of power or influence (maybe you) to actually hold up a societal standard for them for the first time in their lives -- are instead getting more of what they have (haven't) gotten at home. What a missed opportunity! Shame on all adults who don't hold up the highest standard of behavior for those kids who need to hear from some adult in their life that there are expected standards, standards that will serve them well.
You've admitted that the values you model for your kids and grandkids are the values of marriage, commitment and parental responsibility. You know the values that kids need to succeed in this world. Forgive us, but if the highest standards are good enough for your kids, whey aren't they good enough for less fortunate kids? Isn't it a bit condescending (liberals might even use the term "racist") to assume that the less fortunate kids you teach are somehow incapable of living up to the high standards that you and we set for our own kids? And aren't they the ones in our community who most need to hear about high standards? And isn't it selling out those kids if you teach them the lowest common denominator of sexual behavior?
We realize that "while AIDS is sexually transmitted, so is life," as you said. But unmarried teens should be transmitting neither! They have no business having sex, risking their own lives as well as the lives of the children they will very likely bring into the world. You surely know that where abstinence programs have been tried seriously, they have worked. We received a letter from a school nurse who gave us some fantastic and dramatic statistics from her school district after it committed itself to teaching abstinence. The same results are found around the country when abstinence-based programs are tried. Can it be that you are not aware of this?
You say you hope our kids will never need our services -- but that's one of the points of our article, that parents too often don't have a say (or even know!) what their kids are being taught in their public school! While we work hard to teach our children (against the prevailing culture) that sex is more than recreational activity, you are in the schools teaching moral relativism to our kids. Whether you admit it or not, you are undermining the values our kids are taught in the home. That is why many caring, concerned and responsible parents are up in arms these days. We should be able to send our kids to taxpayer-supported schools without you or another educator teaching our kids that heterosexual marriage is no better than any other sexual pairing -- something you yourself don't even believe! Bottom line: Adults should not implicitly nor explicitly condone teen sex. Kids should have age-appropriate information, but the message that unmarried teen sex is wrong must be unambiguous.
We know we won't convince you that every child, even the most disadvantaged, needs standards. All we ask, then, is that the truth be told. That's all we said in our article, as you'll see if you read it again critically. And the truth is, like smoking and drinking, sex is not an acceptable teen activity. We are baffled that the same people who have no qualms about teaching children that teen smoking is WRONG and dangerous (even though "they're gonna do it anyway"), will not also say to teens that having unmarried teen sex is WRONG and dangerous! And the consequences of teen sex are much more devastating than teen smoking. Telling teens that a condom or the notion of "serial monogamy" will protect them is flimsy protection to be sure. If teens are not mature enough to raise and nurture children, then they have no business having sex. This should not be controversial!
We are sorry if we sound harsh, but we are so frustrated by this philosophy that says societal standards are bad, or that adults should remain neutral. Too many kids these days have no adults who love or respect them enough to have high expectations from the, either at home or at school. We think that's a tragedy, and the kids are suffering mightily. Setting standards is not a mean and judgmental thing, it is the loving thing to do for our children, within our own families, and within the greater culture.
Kim Manning Leila Miller
I still remember waiting eagerly for her response to our letter. What surprised me then -- but does not surprise me today -- is that we never heard from her again.
I think the most disturbing part for me is knowing that adults in this society have abdicated their role. The most vulnerable, neglected children are the ones who most need to hear a message of hope and truth and dignity, and yet all they seem to hear is: "Let me help you to facilitate your catastrophically bad choices." It makes no earthly sense to me.
And the idea that "marriage" or "heterosexual" are judgmental concepts? I am still flabbergasted. But it's the same left-wing, social engineering mindset that recently proposed dropping the (discriminatory!) words "mother" and "father" from U.S. passport applications. Thankfully, that idea was shot down and scrapped. For now.
Anyway, this woman's letter is a perfect example of good intentions gone horribly wrong. I hope those at-risk kids she taught ultimately found their human dignity and worth somewhere, because Heaven knows they weren't ever going to find it in a condom.
*Within two years, both of our husbands became Catholic. Kim and I were their RCIA teachers! :)