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Keith Deltano is an abstinence-only-until-marriage speaker and Christian comedian who has given talks around the country in middle schools and high schools.  On his website Deltano offers a brief bio sharing that he has worked as a military police officer, a 6th grade public school teacher, youth leader, private counselor, and educational comedian.[1]  

In Mr. Deltano’s most popular presentation, “The New Sexual Revolution or Abstinence is Cool,”[2]   he uses a loud, aggressive style, reminiscent of a football coach to badger students into accepting his abstinence-only-until-marriage ideology.   Deltano relies on messages of fear and shame, inaccurate and misleading information, and biased views of marriage and gender.  In addition, the format and underlying biases of his presentation do not allow for community and individual values, and discourage critical thinking and discussions of alternative points of view in the classroom.

Relying On Negative Messages

Discounting Young People’s Intelligence—Assuming the worst from youth

  • “Talking about safe sex is like telling a 5-year-old not to eat any cookies…here’s a jar, have a napkin.”
  • When making the point that young men are “dumb,” Deltano bangs a cinderblock against a table for emphasis. 

Deltano also refuses to accept responses from students that do not fall in line with his arguments.  He discounts student’s knowledge and instead continues to ask the same question until he gets the answer he wants.  Like many abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that claim “mixed messages”—encouraging abstinence and providing information about contraception for sexually active students—confuse teens, Deltano tells his audience that they cannot be expected to make responsible decisions about sex.   

Messages of Fear and Shame—Trying to scare students and make them feel guilty

  • “Is 10 percent good enough for you?!?!  Is it good enough?!?!”  The highlight of Deltano’s performance includes an activity designed to illustrate the ineffectiveness of condoms against HIV in which he dangles a cinderblock over the genitals of an unsuspecting male student and yells about the exaggerated (10 percent) failure rate of condoms.
  • “It’s not too late, just get tested.”  Deltano said this to a young man who looked startled after hearing that young people who have sex earlier get more STDs and have less sex in the long run.  With his comment, Deltano singled out the youth and implied that he had already had sex and may have an STD.

One might guess that Mr. Deltano’s casual style is meant to build trust with his audience, but his use of public humiliation certainly undermines it.  Additionally, Mr. Deltano focuses on the negative repercussions of sexual activity and consistently makes use of fear as a motivator. 

Withholding And Distorting Information

Condoms—Emphasizing failure rates and discouraging use

  • “Who put the word ‘safe’ with the word ‘sex?!?!’”  “They don’t go together!”
  • “You’d have to wear a parachute to protect yourself [from HPV and herpes].”  Deltano asserts that condoms provide “no protection” against STDs transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.
  • “Condoms fail 10–30 percent of the time against HIV.”
  • He regularly refers to oral contraceptives as “the wheel thingy” and suggests that they are confusing and that young women cannot be trusted to remember to take birth control pills.

Mr. Deltano distorts and misquotes statistics in an effort to convince students that condoms and contraceptives are not reliable.  He either does not realize or refuses to admit that young people are, in fact, perfectly capable of using contraception consistently and correctly and that it is possible that the higher user failure rates sometimes seen among teenagers can perhaps be attributed to educators like him who fail to provide them with all the information they need to correctly use the devices.

Promoting Biases

Treatment of Gender—Fostering myths and stereotypes

  • “I’m not asking you to not think about sex…That would be like asking some of you high school guys – don’t breathe.” 
  • “Girls, you want a ring on your finger.” 
  • “[Real men] are the ones that are protecting girls from their [the men’s] sexual desires.” 
  • “If you’re a man you don’t meet any of your own needs until you meet your family’s needs.” 

Deltano perpetuates the stereotypes of young men as dumb and hormone driven and of young women as lacking any sexual desire and interested only in love and marriage.  His statements also position men as the natural protectors and sole breadwinners, a notion that has been outdated for decades.  Such a presentation is detrimental to all young people by limiting their options, influencing their behavior, and coloring their expectations for future relationships.  Instead, students need to learn that both men and women are sexual beings and are equally responsible for making decisions regarding sexual activity.

Marriage Promotion—Mandating future relationships

  • “Married people have the best sex and have sex more often.”
  • “The earlier a person has sex in their life, the less sex they will have overall.”

Mr. Deltano again tries to scare youth into abstinence, explaining that people who have sex earlier contract more STDs and consequently have less sex over the course of their lives.  He paints a bright and cheery picture of monogamous heterosexual marriage, even dangling the carrot of better sex in front of his young audience.  Families in which the parents are never married or divorced are never mentioned.  Nor are any other types of families such as those with step-parents, adoptive parents, grandparents raising children, or gay and lesbian partnerships.  Despite never mentioning them, or because of it, Deltano is sending a subtle message to young people that these families are less than those with married, heterosexual parents; they are incomplete. 



[1] What Others Say!, Keith Deltano (2005), accessed 20 February 2007, <www.virginityrocks.com/content/view/2/30/>.
[2] This review is based an hour long version of “The New Sexual Revolution”  which SIECUS staff attended at a public high school in Loudoun County, Virginia in February 2007 as well as information from Deltano’s website and newspaper articles about his other appearances.