It’s been a long time coming, and following the suggestions of nearly every health professional and study, President Obama has finally cut nearly all funding for abstinence-only sex education courses and has reallocated these funds to programs that teach comprehensive sex education.
Obama’s proposed budget calls for 75 percent of sex education funding to support programs that have been shown to be effective (comprehensive) and leaves the remaining 25 percent — about $30 million — for programs that are “innovative” and not proven to be effective (abstinence and other methods). Community-based sex education programs will receive the majority of the more than $100 million allotted for such programs.
This is a drastic about-face from the previous administrations’ approach to funding for sex education programs, which provided no federal funding for comprehensive programs and withdrew money from schools and organizations that opted to teach abstinence in addition to protection and prevention.
For many, it is time to breathe a sigh of relief. Following several years of increases in teen pregnancy and births, the government is willing to accept that abstinence-only sex education has failed our youth and begin a new approach. And yet, the Obama administration has not shunned abstinence-only and other unproven methods of teaching sex education by leaving a quarter of sex education funds for those who with to explore different approaches.
Fundamentally, it is a win-win for everyone. The majority of people who teach sex education favor a comprehensive method, and they can finally receive the necessary federal funding to begin these programs. And for those who still believe in abstinence-only sex education, there will be available funds for them as well.
While comprehensive sex education has been proven more successful and effective than other approaches, there are undoubtedly some young people who would benefit from abstinence-only and other programs.