Prioritizing Parental Rights and Abstinence in Sex-Education

This is part of Family Council’s ongoing series outlining the importance of traditional family values in society. Today’s installment focuses on appropriate sex-education in schools.

Sex-education has been a topic of intense debate in Arkansas and across the country over the decades.

Family Council generally opposes so-called “comprehensive sex-education” programs, because they encourage teens to engage in immoral behavior, and research shows they are generally ineffective or even counter-productive.

Instead, we support abstinence education, which has a good track record in Arkansas and elsewhere.

Below are a few points to consider.

Respecting Parental Rights in Sex-Education

Parents are the primary educators of their children, especially when it comes to topics like sex, and the state must respect parental rights.

Parents should have the right to teach their values, beliefs, and morals to their children. Comprehensive sex-education programs can undermine parental authority and encroach on the values parents want to impart to their kids.

The LEARNS Act that Gov. Sanders recently signed into law actually addresses this point by letting parents review potentially-objectionable public school material before it is taught to their children, and the law lets parents exempt their children from the curriculum if they want.

Age-Appropriate Instruction in Sex-Education

Comprehensive sex-education programs often fail to tailor the information to the child’s age and maturity level. That means they may expose young children to explicit images or other inappropriate content.

The LEARNS Act that Gov. Sanders recently signed into law actually addresses this by prohibiting sexual material in classroom instruction before fifth grade.

This includes instruction regarding sexual intercourse, sexual reproduction, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

This component of the LEARNS Act is similar to legislation enacted in Florida and elsewhere addressing inappropriate sexual material in elementary schools.

Arkansas has other laws in place that promote abstinence education in public schools after fifth grade.

Abstinence Education is Linked to Healthier Lifestyles Among Teens

Family Council supports abstinence sex-education, in part because research shows that encouraging abstinence addresses more than STDs and unintended pregnancies.

According to the CDC, teenagers who practice abstinence are healthier in nearly every way than teenagers who are sexually active.

Sexually-active teens have been found to be less healthy and engage in riskier behavior.

In other words, abstinence is linked to healthier lifestyles overall.

Comprehensive sex-education programs often focus on contraceptives and risk reduction without encouraging abstinence as a viable option. This leads to riskier behavior among teens.

Abstinence Sex-Education Has a Good Track Record in Arkansas

In the 1980s and 1990s, public officials in Arkansas promoted comprehensive sex-education. The programs failed to have a meaningful impact on teen pregnancy and abortion in Arkansas.

These programs focused on teaching public school students about contraceptive use.

During that time, Arkansas’ teen birth rate remained high, and teenagers were among those most likely to have an abortion.

In 1997 the state switched strategies, promoting abstinence-based sex-education in public schools. The results were nothing short of staggering.

Teen birth rates and teen abortion rates in Arkansas plummeted.

From 1997 to 2003, the teen abortion rate fell by approximately 37%, and the teen birth rate fell by 16%.

Governor Huckabee’s abstinence-based sex education of the late 1990s and early 2000s was more than twice as effective combating teen pregnancy and teen abortion as Governor Clinton’s and Governor Tucker’s contraceptive-based sex-education programs.

Family Council was pleased to support Arkansas’ good abstinence education program.


Three decades of data shows that abstinence education doesn’t just work; it’s much better than the comprehensive sex-education programs that groups like Planned Parenthood promote.

Comprehensive sex-education may infringe on parental rights, encourage teens to engage in risky behavior, and expose children to inappropriate material at school.

When it comes to sex-education, the choice is clear: Teaching abstinence is the way to go.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.

Upholding Religious Liberty: A Timeless Principle

This is part of Family Council’s ongoing series outlining the importance of traditional family values in society. Today’s installment focuses on the value of religious liberty.

Religious liberty is a core value woven into the fabric of our nation.

Below are a few points to consider.

Religious Liberty is a Fundamental Human Right

The free exercise of religion is a fundamental human right secured by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Religious liberty lets individuals practice their faith without fear of persecution or discrimination.

Protecting the free exercise of religion helps ensure people are able to live out their deeply held convictions in everyday life.

The Free Exercise of Religion Promotes Morality and Ethics

On August 23, 1984, President Ronald Reagan delivered a speech at the Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, Texas. During the speech he commented,

“Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society.”

Faith and religion help shape moral values and principles. Religious freedom ensures we’re able to follow our beliefs and pass them on to future generations.

Religion and Charity Benefit All of Society

In 2016 researchers writing in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research and Religion published a study examining economic contributions of religious institutions. Researchers estimated “religion” in America contributes at least $378 billion to the U.S. economy annually — and possibly as much as $1.2 trillion or more.

Religious freedom allows individuals to provide a source of support and comfort in their communities. It lets people and groups engage in charity and service motivated by their faith.

Religious liberty also helps build a healthy society, because it lets people of different faiths live out their beliefs peacefully and respectfully without government interference.

Traditional Marriage: A Pillar of Our Civilization

This is part of Family Council’s ongoing series outlining the importance of traditional family values in society. Today’s installment highlights the value of traditional marriage.

Even though governments and courts in America have moved to redefine marriage in the past decade, traditional marriage between one man and one woman is still an essential building block of society.

Below are a few key points to consider.

Traditional Marriage is a Fundamental Institution

Marriage between one man and one woman is an institution that has existed for millennia. It has served as the foundation of countless civilizations — including our own.

It’s easy to forget, but no nation on earth recognized same-sex marriage before the year 2000. There is virtually no history of same-sex marriage in America — or anywhere else, for that matter — prior to the past 23 years.

The marriage of one man to one woman has been the bedrock of western civilization for almost a thousand years. Marriage licenses were issued in colonial America more than a century before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

There is nothing hateful in wanting to uphold the pillars that help support our civilization, and there is nothing wise in tearing those pillars down.

Supporting Traditional Marriage Goes Hand-in-Hand with Supporting Religious Liberty

Traditional marriage and religious liberty are deeply connected, because many religions recognize marriage as a sacred institution between one man and one woman.

Christians believe marriage is a part of God’s created order. People of faith should be free to live out their religious convictions regarding marriage.

Unfortunately, we have heard time and again about Christian photographersbakersflorists, and wedding chapel owners being investigated and dragged into court because they declined to take part in a same-sex wedding or ceremony. Sometimes the Christian business owners win their cases. Other times they lose.

Devaluing marriage and redefining it in society have set the stage for this type of conflict.

Traditional Marriage is Good for Children and Families

Traditional marriage provides a supportive environment where children can thrive. It also is one of the most effective ways to combat poverty and promote economic mobility.

In 2012 Heritage Foundation published an exhaustive report identifying marriage as a determining factor in whether or not a family lives in poverty.

The report found “being married has the same effect in reducing poverty that adding five to six years to a parent’s level of education has.”

Bottom line: Traditional marriage — a lifelong union of one man to one woman — is good for everyone.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.