Well this is just terrible news. The Trump administration announced that it will reallocate federal funding to support abstinence-focused sexual education programs for teenagers. It was just two years ago when Obama removed federal funding from abstinence-only programs, but now Trump is undoing that.
Instead of the comprehensive sexual education programs that Obama was supporting, organizations will receive government money if they include a more abstinence-focused approach. The programs must use a “sexual risk reduction model” that aims to reduce sexual behavior. Or they can use a “sexual risk avoidance model” that teaches teenagers to completely avoid sex.
Using either abstinence-focused approach can the award organizations tier one status for funding. The government is allocating up to $61 million in funds for these programs.
The funding announcement for this sexual education change argued that: “Both risk avoidance and risk reduction approaches can and should include skills associated with helping youth delay sex as well as skills to help those youth already engaged in sexual risk to return toward risk-free choices in the future.”The problem with all of this is that abstinence-only education does not work. Teenagers still have sex. It makes much more sense to teach teenagers about safe-sex practices instead of pretending like they will avoid it. Abstinence-only education ends up increasing teen pregnancy and STI rates!
Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) is a member of the Senate Health Committee and argued strongly against the funding program:
“Both Democrats and Republicans have supported investing in evidence-based approaches to preventing teen pregnancy, so it is disappointing — and deeply concerning — that the Trump-Pence Administration is doing everything it can to undermine these investments in ways that take us in the absolutely wrong direction on this issue. These changes show yet again that the Trump-Pence Administration’s priority is imposing its extreme, backwards ideology, no matter what that means for women, families, and communities.”
Senator Murray makes a great point. This should be above political ideology. We already know that telling kids to avoid sex doesn’t work. Why waste millions of taxpayer money to fund it? The answer, of course, is that abstinence-only programs appeal to conservative Christian voters. I wish we lived in a society that valued evidence over ideology.