Lawyer of the Day, Sex

Wisconsin District Attorney Says Sex Ed is Sexual Assault 101

Put those condoms and bananas away, teachers. Wisconsin district attorney Scott Southworth says that sex ed showing minors how to use contraception is “sexual assault ed,” and that teachers who participate are subject to criminal liability.

State legislators want schools to teach the virile young children of the Cheese State how to safely churn the butter. From AOL News:

The state law, called the Healthy Youth Act, took effect in March. Starting this fall, it requires schools with sex-education courses to teach students medically accurate, age-appropriate information, including how to use birth control and prevent sexually transmitted diseases. It also requires the classes to include information about how to recognize signs of abuse and how alcohol can affect decision making.

Southworth sees this mandate as “troubling.” In a letter to five school districts, he said the law “promotes the sexualization — and sexual assault — of our children.”

Because if a kid discovers how to use a condom — Gasp! — he or she might just actually use it. According to Southworth, should that happen, sex ed teachers could face up to six year prison terms for enabling deviant sexual behavior…

Scott Southworth, Juneau County District Attorney

The letter [PDF] urges school districts not to comply with the new law this fall. Southworth — a University of Wisconsin Law grad elected Juneau County district attorney in 2004 — is a noted child advocate. After serving in Iraq, he worked to find homes for Iraqi orphans in the U.S.

But this letter marks a shift from admirable child advocacy to dubious scare tactics. In the letter, he tells teachers that sex ed may lead to handcuffs:


It’s sex ed, not a Kama Sutra-based lesson on sexual positions.

Apparently, teaching kids how to put on a condom, or how to properly take birth control, is like teaching them how to shotgun Milwaukee’s Best:

One of the authors of the Act thinks Southworth’s issue with teachers showing kids how to use contraception instead of just teaching them about contraception is screwy. From the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:

Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison), who helped write the new law, said Southworth’s letter was irresponsible and that it was laughable to think teachers could be charged for telling students how to use contraception.

“Using condoms isn’t a crime for anyone,” she said. “This guy is not a credible legal source on this matter, I’m sorry to say. His purpose is to intimidate and create enough panic in the minds of school administrators that they’ll turn their backs on young people and their families.”

To quote one commenter on that article:

Juneau County baby boom in 3…2…1…

This is not the first time that Southworth has taken issue with how schools spend their money. Back when he was a Badger law school student, he was a plaintiff in a Supreme Court case to prevent his student fees from going to beaver-based orgs, among others. (He lost.)

Letter from Scott Southworth to School Board Members and District Administrators [PDF via AOL News]
Wis. DA Threatens Arrest for Local Sex-Ed Teachers [AOL News]
Juneau County DA warns districts on sex ed law [Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel]
Segregated Fees Case [University of Wisconsin-Madison]

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