The Left Exploits Elizabeth Smart to Promote Comprehensive Sex Ed
The Left Exploits Elizabeth Smart to Promote Comprehensive Sex Ed
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   05.21.13
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Editor’s Note:  This bill could be called for a vote this week in the Illinois Senate. 
Please take a few minutes to contact your state senator today!

In their relentless effort to rob Illinois communities of the right to choose abstinence-based curricula, the Left once again engages in dishonest, exploitative, and incompetent tactics, tactics that should anger anyone who values truth and sound argumentation.

This time “progressive” promoter of contraceptive-centered sex ed (aka “comprehensive” sex ed), K. Sujata, president and CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women, exploits Elizabeth Smart and  her recent comments about Mormon teaching on rape to promote Illinois’ proposed comprehensive sex ed bill.

Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her home at 14 years old and repeatedly raped over the course of nine months, recently spoke at a conference on human trafficking at Johns Hopkins University. Smart shared this:

I remember in school one time I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence and she said “Imagine you’re a stick of gum. And when you engage in sex, that’s like getting chewed. And if you do that lots of times you’re going to become an old piece of gum and who’s going to want you after that?”

Note that Smart did not say that this idiotic comment was part of any abstinence curriculum. She stated that one time a teacher had made this statement.

And here is Sujata’s odd rendering of Smart’s comment:

As part of her school curriculum, Smart was taught that if she lost her virginity before marriage, she would be considered worthless, like a “piece of chewed gum.” (emphasis added)

It would be generous to say that Sujata misrepresented Smart’s statement.  A less generous observation suggests she lied for her political purposes.

Smart was discussing how the teachings about rape and virginity in her conservative Mormon community contributed to her feelings of worthlessness after being raped. As evidence, she told an anecdote about one feckless and destructive comment one teacher had made. And let’s not forget that this one comment made by one teacher was made during a discussion of abstinence which comprehensive sex ed curricula discuss too.

So, by Sujata’s logic, lawmakers would be justified in robbing all communities of the right to choose “comprehensive” sex ed curricula if someone could find one idiotic and inappropriate statement made by one teacher of a comprehensive sex ed class.

Sujata made yet another ludicrous, dishonest, and unsubstantiated claim. She stated that “the lesson [Smart] was taught has been repeated in Illinois classrooms.” Say what?

Have reporters bothered to ask Sujata to provide evidence for that wild accusation? Has anyone asked her to provide proof from multiple “Illinois classrooms” that they have taught that girls who lose their “virginity before marriage should be considered worthless, like a ‘piece of chewed gum’”?  

Sujata then, in effect, told Illinois lawmakers that her misrepresentation of Smart’s anecdote should lead them to vote for Illinois’ proposed sex ed bill (HB 2675):

As Illinois lawmakers prepare to vote on comprehensive sex education for Illinois’ youth (House Bill 2675), they should consider the experience of a young woman who was victimized twice — once by a rapist and again by the inaccurate, ideologically driven, abstinence-only doctrine passed off as sex education in her classroom.

Sujata’s assertion that the teacher’s comment was part of an abstinence-only “doctrine” is almost as foolish as the teacher’s comment itself.

Sujata claims that “piles of studies prove these negative messages are just plain ineffective when measured against the goal of discouraging teen sex,” and then she cites one. And what did the one study Sujata cited from among the piles of studies find? According to Sujata:

A 2007 study commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that abstinence-only programs have had “no impact on rates of sexual abstinence.” “Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases,” compiled several existing studies and found no strong evidence that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs delay the initiation of sexual intercourse, hasten the return to abstinence or reduce the number of sexual partners.

Here’s what Sujata does not want readers to notice: This study did not prove that comprehensive sex ed is consistently more effective than abstinence-based curricula at reducing STD, STI, or teen pregnancy rates—which are the problems the bill’s sponsors cited as justification for the bill.

In fact, from Sujata’s statement, it doesn’t appear that the study even claimed that abstinence-based curricula are less effective than contraceptive-based ”comprehensive” sex ed at delaying sexual intercourse initiation, hastening the return to abstinence, or reducing the number of sexual partners.

So, if the two types of curricula are roughly equivalent in their effect on abstinence and disease and pregnancy rates, how does the Left justify legally prohibiting only abstinence-based curricula?

It’s important to discuss this issue, but such discussions should be informed by logic, evidence, and truth.  So far, we have Illinois representatives voting for this bill that would legally prohibit a type of curriculum these representatives have never read. We have representatives who voted for this bill without ever seeing any evidence-based research proving conclusively that contraceptive-based “comprehensive” sex ed is consistently more effective at reducing STD, STI, and teen pregnancy rates than abstinence-based curricula. And now we have a promoter of this bill exploiting and misrepresenting the statements of a rape victim in order to get this bill through the Illinois Senate.

Illinoisans from both sides of the aisle should be outraged at the incompetence, ignorance, and dishonesty of those who have promoted and supported this bill.


Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins was the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008 through early 2023. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years...
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