Administration to move to abstinence-based sex education
The teen birth rate has been declining for the past two decades, reaching a record low of 20.3 births per 1,000 girls in 2016. That’s a drop of 9% since 2015 and 64% since 1991, and it’s largely thanks to the increased availability of contraception to teenagers and comprehensive sex-education. It’s fantastic news for our country, which, despite all that, still has the highest teen birth rate among Western industrialized nations. In fact, it’s such fantastic news that the Trump administration looked at it and said, “Okay, cool, cool…but how can we make it the opposite?” Well, they’re going to find out now that they’ve cut $213.6 million from teen pregnancy prevention programs and research.
In a recently announced move, the Trump administration has cut funding to over 80 programs that were receiving funds through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP) in an effort to move towards abstinence-based sexual education. Programs run by such institutions as the Baltimore City Health Department, Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma have been denied funding for the last two years of these five-year grants. They were informed of the cuts in their annual grant award letters, which most programs received last week. To put it mildly, the news came as a shock, with at least one professor telling Reveal News that she and her staff were “reeling.”
Unfortunately, this kind of decision isn’t much of a surprise coming from the Trump administration, whose tagline is, “If it ain’t broke, it’s probably because we don’t know about it yet.”
After all, this is the group that made a man who has sued the EPA 13 times its new director and a woman who wants to take money away from public schools the Secretary of Education. So when he named Valerie Huber, an abstinence education advocate, to the Department of Health and Human Services, a department led by Tom Price, who also supports abstinence-only sex education, our only surprise was that he didn’t pick the author of, “Latex Is The Rubber Of Sinners And Other Reasons Condoms Will Make Your Dick Rot Off” as her assistant.
Scientific facts have yet to have any sort of influence over this administration, and the fact that they are choosing to go with a method of sex-education that has been shown to be ineffective bolsters that. Just last month NPR published a story showing that in Texas, where the majority of high schools either teach abstinence-only sex ed or none at all, the teen birth rate in some parts of the state is nearly twice the national average. In addition, Texas has the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancies in the country.
In fact, most people seem to agree that a large contributing factor to the drop in the teen birth rate is easier access to and education about contraception. So why the change? We imagine their reasons are the following: 1. Sex is dirty. 2. People under 18 should not have sex because it’s dirty. 3. Teenagers are known for their self-control and judicious decision-making and therefore will choose to delay sex if an adult tells them to. Sounds like a success-proof plan to us.
Let’s be clear: our government is putting the futures of our children (in particular, our girls) in jeopardy so that they can say they have some kind of moral high ground. They are cutting access to programs that have made a demonstrative difference in the teen birth rate because the members of their base are uncomfortable talking about sex with their kids and want to pretend they aren’t experimenting with it. But, you know, whatever keeps you from having to say the word “vagina,” I guess.
It’d be funny if it wasn’t so grossly negligent. Instead, it’s just infuriating.