Opponents of abstinence education who say it doesn’t work speak with some authority: They’ve been doing their level best to defeat it.
“According to a report from HHS, federal abstinence education programs received $1 for every $4 spent on contraceptive-focused sex ed,” Kate Knable writes in the December issue of Organization Trends, a newsletter published by the Capital Research Center. HHS is the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal agency that oversees much, but not all, of the national government assistance to public school programs that cover sex education.
“President Bush’s HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt estimated that in fiscal 2008 the federal government spent more than $785 million on teen sex issues: $300 million for pregnancy and disease prevention programs, $309 million for what are called ‘family planning services,’ and $176 million on abstinence education,” Knable reports. “(Total family planning services spending was almost $2 billion.)”
“It’s estimated that about two-thirds of U. S. public schools teach sex ed, and most have programs that are not abstinence-centered.” Abstinence education advocates fought tooth and nail to get even that proportion of federal funding.
Moreover, that dollar breakdown translates into class time. Specifically, “According to the National Abstinence Education Association, about 68 % of American schools have ‘comprehensive sex education’ programs, while no more than 25 % of public schools teach abstinence only,” Knable recounts.
Wait until you hear how comprehensive these programs can be. “Consider, for instance, the instructions for an in-class activity from Planned Parenthood’s curriculum titled Positive Images,” Knable offers. “It recommends that the teacher should have a student explain correct condom usage with the aid of a model of a penis.”
“According to the curricula review, the class should organize cards detailing ‘each step in condom use.’” If you guessed that such courses tend to be rather freewheeling, you might be right.
“Another Curriculum, Be Proud! Be Responsible, is part of Advocates for Youth’s 2008 list of ‘Programs that Work,’” Knable relates. “It targets 13- to 19-year olds.”
“The curriculum recommends ‘showering together’ as a safe sexual activity.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia .