The Fight Over Sex Education in Public Schools

Jul 25, 2007

According to Mitt Romney, Barack Obama is calling for sex education in kindergarten. Obama supporters accuse Romney of misinterpreting Obama's views. What's the real scoop?

The dispute over sex education in public schools erupted last week when presidential hopeful Barack Obama expressed his support for age-appropriate sex education to be taught in public schools. Obama called science-based sex education in schools 'the right thing to do'.

The statement was made at a Planned Parenthood forum and was instantly seized on by another presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney. In recent speeches in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and other states, Romney has since gleefully ridiculed Obama's beliefs about sex education in public schools.

'My view is that the amount of sex education which is appropriate in kindergarten is absolutely zero,' Romney shouted to general cheers from an audience in New Hampshire last weekend.

In an interview on Thursday, Obama responded sharply to Romney's latest attack, saying, 'We have to deal with a coarsening of the culture and the over-sexualization of our young people. Of course, part of the coarsening of that culture is when politicians try to demagogue issues to score cheap political points.'

Spokespeople for the Obama campaign have stated that Romney is doing his best to 'mislead' people with the implications, adding that Obama has been very clear about his stance on sex and health education for younger children.

Obama supports warning young people about inappropriate touching and feels that a kindergartener's questions about 'where babies come from' should be answered accurately and in an age-appropriate format when the questions arise.

'I think the only person who is confused in this debate is Mitt Romney,' said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. 'I think everyone else understands what Senator Obama is saying.'

Romney supporters disagree though and say that nobody has mischaracterized Obama's views.

'The ultimate judge will be the public, and I think it's very clear that they would disagree with Senator Obama's proposal to teach sex ed to kindergarteners,' Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Romney said.

Both Romney and Obama have supported sex education in public schools in the past. As a state senator in 2003, Obama supported an Illinois legislative measure that allowed age appropriate sex education for children of any age-including kindergarteners.

Romney supported a similar plan in 2002, checking a box on a Planned Parenthood questionnaire that indicated he supported abstinence and contraceptive education in schools providing it was age appropriate.

When questioned about the dispute at a Democratic debate on Monday night, Obama stood by his assertions and noted that Romney 'apparently forgot' his own previously held stance on the situation.

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