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Even before becoming involved with the Alabama Alliance for Healthy Youth, I could recognize the glaring inadequacies of abstinence-only sexual health education. These programs’ failure to provide young people with the information necessary to make responsible decisions has caused STI and teen pregnancy rates to increase throughout the southeast. These statistics are obviously unacceptable, but some more subtle negative outcomes accompany these abstinence-only, heterosexual-centric sex ed programs that cannot be summed up in numbers.

For instance, the shame. By the age of 19, 7 in 10 teens have had …