Almost a year ago, I read some fantastic news: Obama’s budget eliminated funding for abstinence-only sex education. This is something that I and many others have written about extensively, and certainly not just on Care2. Even in the wake of statistics from last February that seemed to indicate that abstinence-only sex education might be delaying the point at which teens had sex, it actually showed how necessary comprehensive sex education (which does include discussions of abstinence) is. In fact, the “abstinence-only” program was really “abstinence-plus” – which would not have received funding under this legislation.
Which is why it was so, so bitterly disappointing to read that the newly passed health care reform bill included a renewal of $50 million in funds every year over the next five years for abstinence-only sex education. These programs must “teach that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and other associated health problems,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services. To qualify, they must also teach that sex before marriage is “likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.”
Comprehensive sex education (which, inexplicably, is being called “personal responsibility education” in the bill – really, are we so afraid of saying “sex” aloud that we can’t include the word in our legislation?) is receiving $75 million a year, which is a definite improvement, but I find it absolutely absurd that abstinence-only education is receiving this amount of funding (or any, for that matter), when it has been proven time and time again that it just doesn’t work. Period. I’m all for working across the aisle, but this was clearly a compromise to get the bill passed, and I’m saddened by the fact that this is one of the places where progress was erased. Let’s continue to fight for real sex education in our schools – and an end to funding for programs that just promote shame and guilt about sex, rather than providing real information.
Photo from CoolVirginity.com.