HHS: Children Are ‘Sexual Beings’

Penny Starr | August 22, 2011 | 5:59pm EDT
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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is offering advice to parents and teens about sex education, including assurances that teens may “experiment” with homosexuality as part of “exploring their own sexuality,” and that masturbation should be of concern only “if a child seems preoccupied with it to the exclusion of other activities.”

The information, located on a “Questions and Answers About Sex” link on the “Quick Guide to Healthy Living” portion of the HHS Web site, also describes children and infants as “sexual beings.”

Under the question “When Do Kids Start Becoming Curious About Sex?” the answer notes that infants have curiosity about their bodies.

“Children are human beings and therefore sexual beings,” the Q&A Web page says. “It's hard for parents to acknowledge this, just as it's hard for kids to think of their parents as sexually active. But even infants have curiosity about their own bodies, which is healthy and normal.”

As for masturbation and “what sort of ‘sexual’ behavior do young kids exhibit?” the page says, “Parents should only be concerned about masturbation if a child seems preoccupied with it to the exclusion of other activities. Victims of sexual abuse sometimes become preoccupied with self-stimulation.”

A link at the bottom of the Q&A page, entitled “Sexual Attraction and Orientation,” includes information on sexual experimentation, including homosexuality.

“Thinking sexually about both the same sex and the opposite sex is quite common as teens sort through their emerging sexual feelings,” the page says. “This type of imagining about people of the same or opposite sex doesn't necessarily mean that a person fits into a particular type of sexual orientation.”

“Some teens may also experiment with sexual experiences, including those with members of the same sex, during the years they are exploring their own sexuality,” the page reads. “These experiences, by themselves, do not necessarily mean that a teen is gay or straight.”

Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the conservative Family Research Council, said that the HHS Web site does include some positive information, such as statements about abstinence being the best way to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases and the need for parents to teach their children sexual facts.

But some of the information has no place on a federal government Web site, he said.

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“The idea that ‘children are human beings and therefore sexual beings’ is one of the most destructive myths of the sexual revolution,” Sprigg told CNSNews.com. “To a large extent, this myth may be traced to the ‘research’ conducted by Alfred Kinsey, including the infamous ‘Children of Table 34’ experiments, which involved the deliberate sexual abuse of children as young as 6 months old under ‘experimental’ conditions.”

“The fact that young children are aware that their bodies include genitalia hardly makes them ‘sexual beings,’ and it is improper (and potentially dangerous) to treat them as such before puberty,” he said.

While it is correct to say that a physical encounter between teens of the same sex does not mean they are “gay,” it does not mean homosexuality should be promoted to teens as normal, Sprigg said.

“It is homosexual activists, promoting the ‘born gay, can't change’ myth, who all too often encourage young people to prematurely label themselves as ‘gay,’” he said.

Sprigg added that encouraging teens to become sexually active in any way is wrong: “Sexual ‘experimentation,’ whether same-sex or opposite-sex, should be discouraged for all teens,” he said. “Sex is sex, whether ‘experimental’ or not, whereas abstinence is abstinence --and the latter should be the expected standard of behavior for unmarried teens.”

The HHS Web site reassures teens and parents that having homosexual tendencies as a young person is “common” as teens “sort through their emerging sexual feelings.”

CNSNews.com asked HHS through its press office whether the information on the Web site encourages teens to be sexually active, including taking part in homosexual sex, and if it also encourages parents to accept that behavior.

The agency had not responded to the question by the time this story was posted.

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