Ohio is the latest state to refuse federal funds for abstinence-only sex “education.”
Five other states have announced the end of their participation: Wisconsin, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Montana and New Jersey. California, Pennsylvania, and Maine already don’t participate.
The reasons for refusing the federal money are simple:
- the money can only be used under extremely narrow circumstances–e.g., no mention of condoms or of contraception’s success rate;
- programs with these criteria don’t work to substantially reduce teen pregnancy or STDs–according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office;
- the required matching state funds can be put to better use, enhancing teen sexual health and contraception use.
At a time when the federal budget is being squeezed by almost limitless demands for domestic “security” and the military in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Bush has asked Congress to increase funding for abstinence programs next year by $28 million–over 17%–to $191 million. All to teach kids that sex before marriage “is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.”
The response from Leslee Unruh, president of the South Dakota-based Abstinence Clearinghouse, was sadly predictable.
“There are kids who don’t want to know how to put on a condom, because they don’t want to have sex,” she said. “So why can’t kids who want to abstain have equal time, funding and education in the classroom as kids who are having sex?” Yes, and kids who don’t want to use math don’t need to learn math, and kids who don’t use history don’t need to learn history. And of course what 13-year-olds plan to do when they’re 17 is a great predictor of what they actually do.
Unruh would never admit that sex plays a central role in the lives of America’s young people. She and President Bush care much less about young people’s health, safety, and empowerment than about their ideological agenda of suspending everyone’s sexuality until–and unless–they marry.
The abstinence crowd knows that nineteen-year-olds are for making war, not for making love.