Numerous studies have found that abstinence-only sex education is less than successful, and yet billions of dollars of federal funding have been spent on just such programs. But this month, President Obama suggested stopping funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage education and raised monetary support for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.
A Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States release stated:
“After three decades and nearly $2 billion in federal spending wasted on this failed approach, the president’s proposed budget increases support for programs and efforts that seek to equip young people with the skills they need to ensure their lifelong sexual health and well-being,” SIECUS vice president for policy, interim president and CEO Jesseca Boyer said in the statement.
Research has shown that educating young people about sex does not correlate with an earlier start in sexual activity. At times, teaching children appropriately delays sexual activity. One 2008 report found that teens who are taught comprehensive sex education are 60% less likely to become pregnant or impregnate someone, states Julie Zeilinger for Mic.
The cut was proposed as part of the president’s 2017 federal fiscal budget proposal, and stopped funding that had been channeled through the Department of Health and Human Services.
The decision to do away with abstinence-only sex ed comes in the wake of several national studies that showed it was not deterring teen pregnancies. Nathan Francis of the Inquisitr reports that even though teen births have decreased across the country, rates have continued to be higher in those states that offer abstinence-only education as the primary curriculum.
According to Think Progress, 26 states believed that abstinence should be taught as the best method, and these state have the highest rates of teen births. But Mother Jones added that abstinence-only sex education will not be done away with entirely. There will still be approximately $85 million of federal funding available for abstinence-only instruction since Republicans in Congress have kept the money in the budget every year.
There is no guarantee that Obama’s effort to cut abstinence-only sex education will remain this time around, either. When the discussion process surrounding the budget begins, it is expected that the GOP will make attempts to have the funding reinstated as they always have.
This year makes the third year in a row that the president has tried to make a serious cut in the budget for the funding of abstinence-only education, according to Casey Suglia writing for Romper. But this year some states are fighting against abstinence-only sex ed and promoting instruction on safer sex.
California Gov. Jerry Brown approved legislation to ensure that all schools in the state are teaching comprehensive sex education in the current year. The new law explicitly states that topics will be addressed in an “unbiased, accurate, and inclusive manner.”
In 2011, a University of Georgia study uncovered a positive relationship between abstinence-only courses and teenage pregnancy.
From this time until October 1, lawmakers will debate the proposed budget to decide which plans pass and which do not. Even if this sex education idea does not pass, perhaps it will be the beginning of a conversation that delves into why abstinence-only instruction has not worked and comprehensive sex-ed would.
Suglia says it is time for someone to pay attention to the model for sex education that could benefit today’s generation. She writes that abstinence-only education is just not current and relevant.