Eighty-two percent of Americans support comprehensive sex education, and half outright oppose abstinence-only education, a survey released on Monday by the University of Pennsylvania found. The survey results highlight the disconnect between public opinion and policy, as the federal government has spent almost $1 billion on abstinence-only education since 1998 and has allocated $178 million for abstinence-only education programs in 2006 alone. Furthermore, studies have found that abstinence-only curricula is often inaccurate and ineffective. The Journal of Adolescent Health found that about 85 percent of commonly used curricula contain medically inaccurate information about the effectiveness of contraception.
The survey questioned over 1,000 Americans from ages 18-83, across all political and religious spectra. Comprehensive sex education was favored by 70 percent of self-identified conservatives, with moderates and liberals having even greater levels of support. Comprehensive sex education was also favored by 60 percent of those who attended religious services more than once a week, with those attending services less often having greater support for comprehensive programs.
“With such high support for comprehensive sex education among the public from liberals, conservatives, and moderates alike, political leaders could capitalize on this rare occasion to enact public policy that is supported by both sound scientific evidence as well as public opinion,” the study concluded.