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Teen-Agers and Premarital Sex

May 17, 1986

What Thomas most wants to see is evidence of another drumbeat being sounded in the schools, "one to counteract the drumbeat of sensuality . . ." And on that score, I suspect he has much company.

He suggests a starting point of mandatory curriculum that would not take the present approach of "exposing students to all of their sexual options, as if all are equal and none is to be preferred." The catch, of course, is that he advocates teaching his own preference: no sex before marriage. And it's at that point that he's written off by many as a visitor from another planet, which is unfortunate.

It's unfortunate because Thomas is rightfully concerned about a continuing lowering of standards that increasingly results in heartbreak, disease, and mothers who are children themselves.

He is rightfully aware that whatever is being communicated is not having a positive effect. It's my observation that the regrettable message (whether or not intended) that most students hear these days is: "We know, or assume, that if you're a normal, healthy kid you'll be sexually active." That message concerns and saddens me, especially as a parent; an injustice is being done to young people as they are served this self-fulfilling prophecy.

In fact, there are a host of reasons why many people believe in waiting till marriage, why they opt for "delayed gratification"--not the least of which are pragmatic considerations. The most serious of those considerations is the probability that premarital sex will muddy the waters of distinction between sex and love, short-circuiting true intimacy.

I don't agree, given our pluralistic society, that schools should "teach" abstinence before marriage, as Thomas advocates, but surely they should be acknowledging its existence more than they are, acknowledging the fact that many (albeit, not the majority) still believe it's a viable, pragmatic and yes, even more moral way to go.

ELIZABETH WATSON

Fullerton

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