May 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Florida Planned Parenthood affiliate has taken the opportunity of “National Masturbation Month” to highlight the national organization’s promotion of masturbation as part of a “a common and safe kind of sex play” with “many health benefits.”

On Friday, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida tweeted, “Happy Masturbation Month! We’ve got lots of info on masturbation here,” providing a link to Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s page on masturbation.

There, Planned Parenthood states that “there are many harmful myths about masturbation that may cause us to feel uncomfortable about it. These myths can cause guilt, shame, and fear. Let’s get the facts straight. Masturbation is a natural and common activity for both women and men.”

“National Masturbation Month” was first announced in 1995 by the San Francisco-based sex-toy shop Good Vibrations. The month-long celebration includes the annual “Masturbate-a-Thon” to raise funds for sex education. Individuals participate in competitions, either by webcam or in person, based on “longest duration spent masturbating and most orgasms.”

Jim Sedlak of Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP), a project of the American Life League, said that endorsing the “gateway drug” of masturbation was of a piece with Planned Parenthood’s ideology on sex education.

“Planned Parenthood is an organization that makes its money from people involved in sex,” Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.com in an email. “Although Planned Parenthood pushes masturbation for all, it particularly targets young people with the message. It is a way to get these young kids involved in a sexual lifestyle.”

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Sedlak said that youths buy the idea of masturbation as “risk-free” sex but end up “hooked on sexual stimulation as a way to escape their problems.” Especially alarming is how masturbation at an early age has been shown to interfere with a child’s ability to develop compassion and to learn—effects seen in children who regularly masturbate as young as six years old.

The parenting section of Planned Parenthood’s website tells parents to encourage elementary-age children to experiment with masturbation.

“Kids begin to want additional sexual experiences, and Planned Parenthood is there to sell them products and to make millions from them,” said Sedlak.