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Moral Alternative to SIECUS
AUSTIN, TX - The Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MISH), headed by Dr. Joe McIlhaney, has just released National Guidelines for Sexuality and Character Education, which he hopes will become the national standard against which all sex education curricula can be evaluated. Written for teachers, administrators, and parents, MISH plans to market and distribute Guidelines to schools nationwide.
MISH President Dr. Joe McIlhaney, a prominent gynecologist and fertility specialist, left his thriving private medical practice of 28 years in January 1996 to direct this medical nonprofit think tank. He founded MISH in 1992 to counteract misinformation published about sexually transmitted diseases and to educate the public on the benefits of sexual fulfillment within marriage.
MISH warns that the predominant sex education programs of the past 10 to 15 years have been ineffective in curbing the epidemic rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. For example, years of research clearly show that condoms are an inadequate long-term defense against the spread of STDs, yet many sex education programs continue to promote condom use as guaranteed protection. The dominant educational approaches have taken the forms of sexual information, values clarification, and mixed-messages ("abstinence is good, but . . .").
"For educators to use the language of 'safe' or 'safer sex' is misleading at best, and at worst irresponsible," according to the Guidelines. "Sex for unmarried teens is clearly high-risk behavior in that it jeopardizes their physical health and emotional well-being as well as their future fertility."
Born out of growing concern for the sexual health of young Americans, Guidelines espouses a philosophy radically different from Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education published by the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) in 1991. MISH's Guidelines not only provides a framework in which to develop sexuality education curriculum, but also teaches moral principles (e.g., self-discipline, responsibility, and respect for self and others) in combination with accurate medical information. MISH hopes that its new Guidelines will be the catalyst for a "new sexual revolution" that will result in fewer teen pregnancies, lower infertility, fewer STDs, and healthier, more fulfilling sex lives for Americans.
Unlike other groups, the Institute advocates abstinence-based sex education from solely a medical perspective. "This key distinction," says a MISH brochure, "allows us to tread where others cannot go." MISH publishes research-based print material and slide presentations that discuss the medical facts on the STD epidemic and argues abstinence as the only medically proven way to avoid such diseases. Sexual health information is provided to "young people, parents, and to leaders in health care, government, education and media in order to facilitate healthy and life-affirming sexual choices and to promote a cultural revolution of deeply satisfying human sexuality."
Content & Structure
At its core, Guidelines places the development of good character as the highest priority.
In addition to being an aid in evaluating existing sex education programs, Guidelines also help schools to define and develop character-based sex education for students in four age groups: Early Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School/Junior High, and High School. Seven "key topics" provide the framework within each age group: Character Formation, Human Development, Relationships, Family, Sexual Behavior, Sexual Health, and Media and Society.
Each "key topic" is further defined by several "behavioral qualities" that broadly define instructional goals. To address the behavioral qualities of each key topic, age-appropriate sub-topics are identified. A concept accompanies each sub-topic, along with "developmental messages" divided into the four age levels and reinforced accordingly.
Guidelines offers a Resource Guide that lists numerous sexuality education and character-based curricula, books, videos, and slides. These resources are designed to provide educators and parents with materials for teaching character-based sex education and the broader subject of family life education.