Obama budget cuts abstinence education funds
Politics | Tiffany Owens
In the budget he delivered yesterday to Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama axed funds for sexual risk avoidance (SRA) education, even though research shows these programs can help curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
The president also redirected funds away from avoidance education and towards sex-ed programs that emphasize contraception. In a statement, the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) said moving the money violates a 2010 congressional mandate to give states $50 million in Title V grants for SRA education.
“Using Title V funds for programs that are not compliant with the Congressional definition for abstinence education is a violation of congressional intent and therefore, outside the authority of this budgetary directive,” the group said.
Currently, the ratio of federal funding for contraceptive-based sex education and abstinence-based programs is 16:1, respectively. Opponents of abstinence education criticize it as unrealistic and ineffective, assuming teens will choose to be sexually active. Consequently, they advocate for “safe sex” education instead.
But SRA programs teach students more than just the wisdom of abstinence. They also learn other practical skills, like how to identify healthy relationships, avoid unwanted sexual advances, avoid STDs, and understand contraception.
“Students in successful SRA programs are more likely to delay sex than their peers, and if they are sexually active, have fewer partners and are no less likely to use a condom,” the NAEA statement said.
And studies show teens aren’t opposed to abstinence. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the number of girls having sex between the ages of 15 and 19 decreased by 8 percent between 1988 and 2010, from 51 percent to 43 percent. The number of boys having sex dropped 18 percent, from 60 percent to 42 percent.
“The president’s move to eliminate sexual risk avoidance (SRA) abstinence programs is completely out of touch with … what is in the best interest of America’s youth,” said NAEA President Valerie Huber. “It’s troubling that the President would want to prevent students from receiving the encouragement and skills to avoid sexual risk.”
Since the president delivered his budget more than two months late, it isn’t clear how significantly it will affect the legislative process.
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