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J Med Humanit. 2013 Jun;34(2):101-8. doi: 10.1007/s10912-013-9213-0.

I want to hold your hand: abstinence curricula, bioethics, and the silencing of desire.

Author information

1
University Writing Program, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20007, USA. alw@gwu.edu

Abstract

The abstinence approach to sex education remains influential despite its demonstrated ineffectiveness. One bill forbids the "promotion" of "gateway sexual activity," while requiring outright condemnation of "non-abstinence," defined so loosely as to plausibly include handholding. Bioethics seldom (if ever) contributes to sex-ed debates, yet exploring the pivotal role of medical discourse reveals the need for bioethical intervention. Sex-ed debates revolve around a theory of human flourishing based on heteronormative temporality, a developmental teleology ensuring the transmission of various supposed social goods through heterosexual marriage (Halberstam, 2005). Heteronormative temporality also constitutes a moralized discourse in which the values of health and presumed certainties of medicine serve to justify conservative religious dictates that otherwise would appear controversial as the basis for public policy. Overall, this analysis explores how moralized medical discourses compound existing injustices, while suggesting bioethics' potential contributions to moral and political analysis of sex-ed policies.

PMID:
23468394
DOI:
10.1007/s10912-013-9213-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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