Another sex education battle is brewing. First, there was a scathing New York Times editorial aimed at the Trump administration and at the idea of abstinence education. Then there was the front-page article in USA Todayon sex education, politics, and pop culture.
These and other editorials and articles leave you with the feeling that: (1) the current sex education programs are working, (2) the abstinence programs are failures, and (3) the Trump administration is “advancing an anti-science, ideological agenda.” All three are false.
Back in 2010, President Obama’s administration eliminated all funding to Sexual Risk Avoidance education (that includes teaching about abstinence) and created the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program. Years later, HHS evaluated the comprehensive sex education program and concluded that more than 80 percent of the teens in the program fared either worse or no better than their peers who were not part of the program.
By contrast, abstinence programs have been proven effective. As I also pointed out in a previous commentary, a CDC report talks about additional health benefits that also accompany teaching about sexual risk avoidance.
Proponents of comprehensive sex education point to some studies that demonstrate that condoms can be effective in preventing the spread of STDs. But these studies say that condoms must be used consistently and correctly. Let me ask those of you who have had teenagers in your home. Would you use the words “consistently and correctly” to describe a teenager’s behavior? I didn’t think so.
Most Americans are surprised to learn that a majority of teens are NOT sexually active and that fewer are sexually active today than 20 years ago. Maybe it is time to reevaluate what we have been teaching in the schools.