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Ab-only Still Not Working - Feds Still Funding It!

Posted Jul 21 2008 10:18am

Results from the 2007 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey released last week contain disturbing hints that efforts to reduce the teen sex rate and increase teen condom use rate are stagnant. Earlier this month, we learned that Lawrence and Lowell, which have the 3rd and 9th highest teen pregnancy and birth rates in the state, are still indulging in ab-only-until-marriage programming because funding for actual sex education was cut in 2003, and that Gloucester already had as many pregnant teens in their high school in May as they did for the entire calendar year last year. All of this came on the heels of news in March that one in four teen girls in the nation – and nearly half of black teen girls - has a sexually transmitted disease.

Hilariously, Valerie Huber, the director of the National Abstinence Education Association, seems to be blaming actual sex education for all of this backsliding:“contraceptivesex education does not provide practical skills for maintaining or regaining abstinence but typically gives teens a green light for activity that puts them at great risk for acquiring [STDs] or which serve as gateway-to-intercourse activities.” (emphasis added)

Attempting to bad-mouth sex education by using “contraceptive” as a pejorative points out the seminal problem with ab-only – its goal isn’t to educate or prevent pregnancy or disease transmission, but rather to convince young people to adhere to a specific moral construct. The laughable argument that discussing information is green lighting gateway to intercourse activities is akin to saying, don’t tell kids about bottles, because if you do, they’ll think you approve of beer and start drinking it immediately.

Making matters even more sadly interesting is news that makes it painfully clear that ab-only supporters still have big friends in Washington DC: the Senate is considering an 18 month extension of the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that will hamstring a new administration and Congress from promptly eliminating its funding next year. This is being proposed despite the fact that: 1) the majority of Americans favor comprehensive sex education, 2) an 8 year congressionally mandated evaluation found that ab-only programs don’t work, 3) condoms are still the best protection against HIV for sexually active people, and 4) 90% of people in the US have sex before and/or outside of any marital arrangement.

Think the Senate has sense enough to not do this? Think again. Then contact Senator Kennedy’s office 202 224 4543 and Senator Kerry’s office at 202 224 2742, and tell them this: I live in the fine state of Massachusetts and I want the Senator to call the Senate Finance Committee and tell them to take the ab-only extension out of the Senate Medicare package. This is a waste of federal dollars that should not be continued.

If you don’t call – guess what? no one else will – except for Valerie Huber’s friends and family. And clearly, Washington needs to hear from someone besides them.

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