President Obama has eliminated all government funding for abstinence-only sex education programs in public schools. Research shows that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are ineffective and that they negatively impact young people’s health.
Abstinence-only sex ed programs, and abstinence-until-marriage programs, are an extremely limited version of sexual education. These types of programs emphasize that young people should not have sexual intercourse until after they are married.
Abstinence based sexual education programs rarely include information about anatomy, puberty, sexual health, and sexual orientation. These programs are favored by some Christian religious groups and by Republican lawmakers.
Research shows that abstinence-only sexual education programs are ineffective. Students in these programs start having sex at about the same age (14 years old) as their peers who received comprehensive sexual education do. Each group had about the same number of sexual partners.
Abstinence-only sexual education did not lower the risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Research shows that young people who received abstinence-only sexual education might refrain from having vaginal intercourse, but that they were not necessarily refraining from having other types of sexual activity.
Those that were not taught how to use a condom, or who were incorrectly told that condoms never work, engaged in sexual activity without protection. This resulted in unintended pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. A study done by the University of Georgia in 2011 found a positive correlation between abstinence-only sex education and teenage pregnancy.
Abstinence-only sex education courses are not effective in delaying the initiation of sexual activity or in reducing teen pregnancy. In short, there is no evidence to support the continued investment of public funds into abstinence-only sexual education courses. President Obama’s budget proposal for the fiscal year of 2017 eliminates a $10 million-a-year grant program for abstinence-only sex education.
Congress has until the start of the new fiscal year, October 1, 2016, to debate about all of the things in President Obama’s budget proposal. Some states, including California, have passed laws that require that all schools teach comprehensive sexual education. Your state may already have opted-out of abstinence-only sex education.
What does this mean for parents? The most important thing to realize is that the funding cut for abstinence-only sex education does not prevent parents from about talking about abstinence, or other sexual education related topics, with their tweens or teens. It is also worth noting that comprehensive sex education courses do mention abstinence (in addition to other important topics).
Related Articles at Families.com: