- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 14, 2011


On Aug. 4, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and liberal billionaire George Soros launched the Young Men’s Initiative designed “to tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men.” While in principle this sounds like a noble effort, in practice parts of it are a blatant attempt to undermine Latino families and their values.

This is particularly so when we look at the initiative’s sexual education mandate. Citing the high incidence of teen pregnancy among young Latinos, the city will now require that students as early as sixth grade be taught about artificial contraception, including condoms and the pill.

It is the responsibility of the family, not government, to teach values to children, including what is proper sexual behavior. Sex, after all, is not merely an animalistic, physiological act that can be discussed coldly in a school science lab. It can be properly understood only in its moral context, so it can be adequately addressed only in the nurturing environment of the family.

Most Latino parents, contrary to what Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Soros would have us believe, are good and committed parents who take time to teach their sons and daughters what is right and wrong when it comes to sex. Teenage pregnancy in the Latino community, like in any other community, is not the result of improper education at home or a lack of knowledge about the mechanics of sex or contraception, but rather of the toxic impact of a popular culture that promotes promiscuity and reduces sex to mere pleasure.

Many Latino families, following their principles as well as common sense, seek to inculcate in their children that sex is more than a biological phenomenon; that it should be a full expression of love, an unselfish act of total self-giving that is open to the gift of life. Accordingly, many Latinos families want their children to practice abstinence before marriage.

The Bloomberg/Soros Initiative, therefore, demonstrates a profound lack of moral and cultural sensitivity to the Latino community. It advances a specific secularist understanding of sex that devalues it, stripping it of its emotional and spiritual dimensions and contradicts the basic values that many Latinos want to teach their children. In this sense, it is an attack on the freedom of religion and conscience of families and individuals.

The fact that there may be parents who are not involved in their children’s lives should not be an excuse for government to try to take over the moral education of all children. Even in the case of at-risk children with dysfunctional families, the answer is not to usurp parental authority but to engage parents and encourage and empower them to be more involved in the lives of their children. The best way to address the serious social problems faced by low-income Latino youngsters is not through more government involvement but by promoting a strong family culture.

A great policy, for example, to promote healthy families where children are nurtured and formed responsibly as individuals, is to alleviate the tax burden of working families. The reality is that many parents cannot spend enough quality time with their children because they have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

Curiously, New York City has the highest tax-rate in the country and New York state has the second-highest tax burden in the nation. Instead of getting involved in the moral education of children, wouldn’t it be better for Mr. Bloomberg to cut taxes and help improve the quality of life of Latino families?

Any attempt by the government to replace the role of parents in teaching morals to Latino children is simply a demonstration of blindness and insensitivity. That’s why most states and cities avoid imposing sex education mandates on schools. The last thing struggling Latino and black families need is Michael Bloomberg and George Soros intervening in their lives to push condom education onto their children.

Alfonso Aguilar is the executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

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