Huge Budget for Abstinence-Only Sex Education

The Welfare Reform Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton, contains a greatly overlooked amendment that increases funding for sex education programs that teach chastity as the only option for preventing pregnancy and sexual transmitted disease. The law reserves $250 million ($437 million with mandatory state matching funds) for educating children and teenagers about abstinence. The law also prevents any part of the budget from going to programs that teach about condoms or provide any information that in any way challenges or weakens the abstinence lesson. According to the New York Times, a National Institutes of Health panel of scientists condemned the funding of abstinence-only education as “an obstacle to reducing the risky behaviors among teens.”

A recent study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute found the number of high school teachers who subscribe to the abstinence only program has grown from 2 to 23 percent. The increase in the number of abstinence-only sex education programs can be attributed to the influx of religious conservatives on local school boards, rather than to the success of the abstinence-only message. In fact, three studies have shown insufficient evidence that teaching abstinence only prevents young people from having sex. Supporters of the abstinence-only education have argued that promoting the use of condoms increases sexual activity„a theory that has been disproved.


New York Times _ December 28, 2000

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