Friday, March 19, 2010

Abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education -- It's back...

Read that title in your most ominous, scary movie tone.

Because, unbelievably, this is the program that just won't die. I think we all believed we had driven a stake through it. The Congressional evaluation found that abstinence-only sexuality education didn't help young people delay. Other studies found that it actually increased the numbers of young people having oral and anal sex, and discouraged them from using contraception when they did have sexual intercourse. President Obama deleted it from his budget. Even half the states had rejected the money.

And yet, there it is again...$250 million dollars in the health care reconciliation bill.

How did that happen? Well, I'm guessing it's about lobbying, connections, the organized right, and the huge abstinence-only-until-marriage industry that has grown up since 1997.

What it's not about is our young people. The evidence is clear -- programs that teach young people about sexuality, stress abstinence and sexual limit setting, and provide information on STD and pregnancy prevention help young people delay sexual activity and protect themselves when they do become sexually involved. Only one abstinence-only program has been shown to help young people delay -- it was at the sixth- and seventh-grade level, and it was not a fear- based program. It didn't tell them not to have sex until they were married -- but not to have sex now. Surely we all support that.

But this new program will likely continue the same lies and the same withholding of information that we've seen since the late 1990s. It's wrong.

Speak up. Join our new Faithful Voices Network at and add your voice as a person of faith for sexuality education.


Bill Baar said...

The Congressional evaluation found that abstinence-only sexuality education didn't help young people delay.

What does help young people "delay"?

Should young people "delay", and if yes, dealay until when?

Desmond Ravenstone said...

Given how so many of these abstinence-only "education" programs stress rigidly backward views of gender roles, parents should also be worried about how they affect the quality of romantic relationship. Wouldn't be surprised if a study showed an increase in domestic violence and date rape -- with the male typically blaming the female for "provoking" him.