WASHINGTON -- Both political parties say education will top the list of priorities for next year's national elections. If so, here's the issue of the year: sex education.
Long ago, when religious organizations complained about carnal instruction in the public schools, the press and the educational establishment quickly tarred these critics as hicks unwise to ethics in the age of birth control and warned that untutored adolescents would learn on their own about the birds and bees.
Little did anyone suspect that schools eventually would be the ones encouraging kids to rut with abandon -- and that the federal government would dole out millions of bucks to subsidize what amounts to a Condom Cult.
The Centers for Disease Control have begun cranking out "Programs That Work" manuals bearing such titles as, "Be Proud! Be Responsible!" "Becoming a Responsible Teen" and "Reducing the Risk."
The texts claim to aim at cutting down on pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but they also adopt methods that would do any brainwasher proud.
Consider what cults do. First, they weaken family ties.
The aforementioned programs require students to make written or spoken pledges of confidentiality: Youngsters are singled out for opprobrium if they tell their parents. Schools assiduously keep moms and dads in the dark.
Cults also jangle moral codes by introducing new standards and reinforcing them through behavior modification.
Here's an example from "Reducing the Risk": "(T)here are many ways to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease (STD).
You could become a hermit who never talks to anyone or does anything. Or, you could avoid pregnancy and STD by being so unpleasant that everyone stays clear of you. Or you could never become involved in a romantic relationship."
Translation: Only geeks, losers and dirtballs avoid teen sex.
A training manual tells teachers to humiliate students who believe in abstinence.
It instructs them to 1) say, "Condom use is dealt with in pastoral counseling of couples," 2) put the burden on the kids by asking, "How they want it handled if (oth
er) students ask the questions" and 3) "Ask opponents to sit in on the group. INSIST they sit in on the group."
Another manual recommends role-playing to stress the importance of "protection."
The case for deferred gratification is reduced to this: "We believe in abstinence; if we plan, we're BAD!" (Never mind that abstinence education is far more successful at reducing pregnancy and STDs than this bilge.)
In keeping with the brainwashing theme, the text outlaws conscientious objection: "To (refuse role-playing) would run counter to the purpose of the group."
Cults also ensnare members by creating bizarre rites. That way, members not only share experiences, they also have incriminating evidence on one another.
The Programs That Work establish an elaborate system of idiocies, the first of which is that high-schoolers, beginning at age 13, spend an inordinate amount of time fondling condoms.
"Becoming a Responsible Teen" promotes having kids serve as "personal trainers" for each other -- applauding dexterity with condoms and swapping suggestions about technique.
"Be Proud! Be Responsible!" invites youngsters to "brainstorm ways to increase spontaneity . . . store condoms under mattress, eroticize condom use with partner, use extra lubricant, use condoms as a method of foreplay, use different colors and types/textures . . . think up a sexual fantasy . . . hide them on your body and ask your partner to find it."
It tells young lovers to have fun by purchasing condoms together.
Teachers behave like fools by speaking in slang, most of which is unprintable. To take one of the milder locutions, just imagine your old health teacher announcing in chirpy tones: "Class! Pay attention! Now we're going to talk about yodeling in the canyon!"
Finally comes the matter of discipline for would-be apostates. The CDC uses cash as a lure.
Schools get big bucks to join the fun. If they balk, somebody else gets the loot. Meanwhile, as we have seen, educators treat skeptical students like lepers.
These programs, which have been exposed by Ohio State Board of Education member Diana Fessler and Cincinnati Enquirer writer Linda Cagnetti, illustrate the way in which elites are using "public health" as an excuse for overhauling everything from economic regulation to public instruction.
Activists who argue with regard to abortion that government should stay out of the bedroom now want Uncle Sam to enter children's bedrooms.
I have left out the most outrageous stuff, but you get the idea: We finally have discovered something more obscene than the Starr Report, and it is a public-school curriculum supported by our tax dollars.
This leads to the question: Why should any parent trust educators who willingly teach teens how to construct "dental dams" for oral sex?
Tony Snow is a syndicated columnist.