Monday, March 21, 2011

Congressional Democrats introduce anti-abstinence-only bills

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Sex education

Well, this is a first, and definitely a step in the right direction. Democrats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have introduced bills aiming to cut the roughly $50 million a year in funding used to support utterly useless abstinence-only sexual education programs:

"Abstinence-only education doesn't work and is a poor use of federal funding," said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who sponsored the bill in the Senate. "Our nation's young adults deserve access to information that helps them take on real life situations and make smart decisions."

"We need to get serious about educating our young people about sex," added Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the House sponsor. "Abstinence-only programs fail to address the challenge of unplanned pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections among our youth, which have reached a critical level."

The bill, known as the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act, would redirect $50 million spent annually on abstinence-only sexual education to "evidence-based, comprehensive sex education programs," according to a release from Lautenberg. The release cites as evidence that abstinence education doesn't work the relatively high teen pregnancy rate in the United States as well as the HIV infection rate among those under the age of 29.

A national study authorized by Congress and released in 2007 concluded that abstinence-only sexual education, which had been supported by the administration of President George W. Bush, did not keep teenagers from having sex.

About ruddy time. Not only is abstinence-only sex ed patently useless in discouraging the majority of youths from having sex, but it’s also downright counter-productive. The point of sexual education is not to scare teens into waiting before having sex, but rather to educate them about the risks, and especially, the types of protection they can use. Research showing how some kids who undergo abstinence-only classes do tend to wait a bit longer before fornicating is of no support to abstinence-only supporters, either; it’s always preferable to have kids who have sex sooner, but safely, than to have them wait a bit longer, but end up pregnant of catching STDs because they were only taught to hold off on fucking, not how to actually protect themselves when they inevitably became sexually active.

Now, as for these bills, there’s exactly zero chance that the House bill will survive a primary vote, seeing as the chamber is infested with right-wing demagogues who would sooner whore themselves to their Christian-conservative base than to do anything remotely productive these days. But the Senate remains under Democratic control and has already struck down a number of insane House-passed bills (and promises to kill many more in the future, thankfully), so there may yet be hope for Sen. Lautenberg’s attempt at severing federal assistance to this worthless program, which only hinders proper sex ed, rather than affirms it.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)