This morning President Obama released his long awaited 2010 Budget Blueprint, and when it comes to sex education, I’m afraid that we have more questions than concrete answers.
First, the only language in the Health and Human Services section that refers to sex education comes under a paragraph about preventing teen pregnancy:
Prevents Teen Pregnancy. The Budget supports State, community-based, and faith-based efforts to reduce teen pregnancy using evidence based models. The program will fund models that stress the importance of abstinence while providing medically-accurate and age-appropriate information to youth who have already become sexually active.
So the language raises a couple of questions: The budget says that they will provide “medically-accurate and age-appropriate information to youth who have already become sexually active.” Does this mean that those who haven’t had sex yet don’t get this sex education? How will “sexually active youth” be identified? Or what assumptions will go into deciding who receives these lessons?
Are the “model” programs that “stress the importance of abstinence” also required to provide the “medically-accurate and age-appropriate” components? Or are those “model” programs stressing abstinence the same “faith based efforts” that the previous Administration funded?
Will we see a parallel stream of funding that allows those ineffective, harmful abstinence-only programs that are rooted in simply telling kids that it is dangerous and immoral to have sex before marriage, while ignoring or misleading youth on the effectiveness of contraception?
And perhaps most concerning, there is no reference to “comprehensive sex education”.
President Obama has already publicly stated his support for age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education for all students, and has also vowed in his inaugural address and address to the joint session of Congress on Tuesday that he would stop funding education programs that don’t work. From these statements, one would assume that we were in great shape – - that Obama would eliminate federal funding for these abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that have already wasted more than $1.5 billion and put the sexual health of countless youth in jeopardy.
We don’t have any concrete numbers yet, but we need to keep writing President Obama to make sure that he hears from those of us who support science-based, reality-based sex education..
Our country is long overdue to send out the Abstinence Clowns, and stop funding sex ed programs that tell kids you shouldn’t believe non-virgins when they say they have been raped and tell kids that using a condom is like playing Russian Roulette.
It’s not too late for Obama to cut this funding in his detailed budget that will likely come out next month, so, for the sake of the sexual health of young people for an entire generation, let him know how you feel!